Regional anesthesia is a type of pain management for surgery that numbs a large part of the body, such as from the waist down. The medication is delivered through an injection or small tube called a catheter and is used when a simple injection of local anesthetic is not enough, and when it’s better for the patient to be awake.
This type of anesthesia, including spinal blocks and epidurals, is often used for childbirth. In fact, an epidural is the most common type of pain control used for labor and delivery. It allows the mother to be awake and able to push when it’s time to deliver the baby, but numbs the pain. Another type of regional anesthesia — a spinal block — is stronger and is used during procedures such as cesarean deliveries, also known as C-sections. Spinal blocks and epidurals allow the doctor to surgically deliver the baby without causing pain to the mother, and without subjecting the baby to sedating drugs that might be harmful.
This type of anesthesia, including spinal blocks and epidurals, is often used for childbirth.
Regional anesthesia is very safe and doesn’t involve the potential complications and side effects that can happen with sedation and general anesthesia. But it does carry some risks, and it’s important that it be provided and monitored by an anesthesiologist, a medical doctor.
Anesthesiologists work with your surgical team to evaluate, monitor, and supervise your care before, during, and after surgery—delivering anesthesia, leading the Anesthesia Care Team, and ensuring your optimal safety.