Question:I am going to have surgery to repair the rotator cuff tendons in my shoulder. The doctor has offered me the choice between two different types of anesthesia: general and regional. What are the advantages and disadvantages of these?
Regional anesthesia blocks sensation in a large area such as the entire shoulder or arm without putting the patient to sleep. With general anesthesia, the patient is not awake or aware during the operation. General anesthesia has been in use for a long time. Regional anesthesia is a newer technique.
The biggest difference between these two types of anesthesia is the amount of pain after surgery. During the first four hours after the operation, there is less pain with the regional anesthetic. This also means fewer pain medications.
Other advantages of regional anesthesia include less blood loss and less time in the recovery room. This means the patient often gets to go home sooner. In some cases, pain levels require overnight stays in the hospital. Longer stays are more common with general anesthesia because of greater postoperative pain.
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