Question:My mother-in-law was just taken into surgery for a total hip replacement. At the last minute they asked her if it was okay to use a regional anesthesia instead of a general. Neither one of us know anything about it. What should we have said?
Many studies have been done comparing these two types of anesthesia. With general anesthesia, the patient is put to sleep for the entire operation. The advantage is the patient doesn't feel anything or remember anything. However, there are various problems possible with general anesthesia. Blood loss and blood clots head the list.
Regional anesthesia puts the local area like an arm or leg to sleep so it is insensate or "nonfeeling." There are fewer complications with a regional anesthesia. The patient must still be sedated but the anesthesiologist controls how much drug is needed for each person.
The regional anesthesia doesn't wear off right away so the patient has a longer pain free period of time after the operation. This helps the patient get up and get moving again without fear of pain. Motion is lotion and can help speed up recovery.Pier Francesco Indelli, MD, et al. Regional Anesthesia in Hip Surgery. In Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. December 2005. No. 441. Pp. 250-255.
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