Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Complications from local and regional anesthesia


Complications from local anesthesia

When used properly, local anesthetics are safe and have few major side effects. But in high doses, local anesthetics can have toxic effects caused by being absorbed through the bloodstream into the rest of the body (systemic toxicity). This may significantly affect your breathing, heartbeat, blood pressure, and other body functions. Because of these potential toxic effects, equipment for emergency care must be immediately available when local anesthetics are used.

Complications from regional anesthesia

For regional anesthesia, an anesthetic is injected close to a nerve, a bundle of nerves, or the spinal cord. In rare cases, nerve damage can cause persistent numbness, weakness, or pain.
Regional anesthesia (regional nerve blocks, epidural and spinal anesthesia) also carries the risk of systemic toxicity if the anesthetic is absorbed through the bloodstream into the body. Other complications include heart or lung problems, and infection, swelling, or bruising (hematoma) at the injection site.

Spinal anesthesia medicine is injected into the fluid that surrounds the spinal cord (cerebrospinal fluid). The most common complication of spinal anesthesia is a headache caused by leaking of this fluid. It is more common in younger people. A spinal headache may be treated quickly with a blood patch to prevent further complications. A blood patch involves injecting a small amount of the person's own blood into the area where the leak is most likely occurring to seal the hole and to increase pressure in the spinal canal and relieve the pull on the membranes surrounding the canal.

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