Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ

Question:

I'm trying to decide about anesthesia for my shoulder surgery next month. The doctor has offered me a local nerve block. She can also do a general anesthesia to put me to sleep. I know there are some possible problems with each one. How do I decide?

Answer:

Ask your doctor to go over the pros and cons of each option. Even if this was explained one time, ask for another explanation. This is important since you’re still undecided. As a general rule the rate of complications with either method is less as the anesthesiologist's experience increases.

In other words, whichever method the anesthesiologist uses most often usually has the lowest rate of problems later. Once you decide which option is best for you, ask your surgeon to recommend an anesthesiologist with good results using that method.

Regional blocks can fail but the surgeon can always switch you over to general anesthesia. The opposite isn't true. The success of a regional block depends on the skill of the anesthesiologist. With good results you should have a shorter operation, less pain afterwards, and less nausea and vomiting.

Julie Y. Bishop, MD, et al. Interscalene Regional Anesthesia for Shoulder Surgery. In Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. May 2005. Vol. 87-A. No. 5. Pp. 974-979.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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