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Once you are scheduled for surgery, your choice of anesthetic can be discussed during your pre-assessment visit or with your anaesthesiologist before your surgery. There are 3 main categories of anesthetics: General, Regional, and Local. All three types of anesthetics can be combined together as well:

  • General anesthesia involves total loss of consciousness
  • Regional anesthesia includes spinal, epidural, and nerve blocks
  • Local anesthesia involves injecting local anesthetic (numbing medicine) in the skin and tissues near the area of the surgery.

What is Regional Anesthesia?

Local anesthetic is injected near nerves to numb (or “block”) specific areas in Regional Anesthesia.

In spinal or epidural anesthesia, this local anesthetic is injected in or near spinal canal to numb the abdomen and/or the legs. As the nerves leave the spinal cord, they can be blocked at various locations in the body: just as they exit the spinal canal (such as paravertebral blocks); further out towards the side of the abdomen (TAP blocks) or when they form bundles to supply the arm or leg (peripheral nerve blocks).

Small tubings (catheters) can be placed near these nerves so that local anesthetic can be delivered for several days in the hospital or at home.

Some surgeries can be done with Regional Anesthesia alone instead of General Anesthesia. Often, Regional Anesthesia is used for managing pain and improving quality of recovery after the surgery and is used in combination with General Anesthesia.

A comprehensive discussion of Regional Anesthesia can be found in the patient information section of the asra.com website:

What types of Regional Anesthesia are available at the Ottawa Hospital?

  • Spinal
  • Epidural
  • Paravertebral blocks
  • TAP blocks
  • Brachial plexus blocks +/- home catheters
  • Lower Extremity blocks +/- home catheters

Regional Team at TOH

All anesthesiologists at TOH perform spinal and epidural blocks. There is also a team of Regional Anesthesiologists that subspecialize in nerve blocks. Our subspecialty core group are internationally trained, with Regional Anesthesia Fellowships from Brigham and Women’s Harvard University, The Monash Medical centre, Australia, The Virginia Mason Center, Seattle, Duke University, and locally trained at the University of Ottawa. One of our members has been awarded the Canadian Anesthesiologist’s Society Clinical Teacher Award for outstanding contributions to Resident, Fellow and Medical student teaching and administration in Regional Anesthetic Techniques. Former graduates of our Fellowship training program have been instrumental in the development of their own regional anesthesia training in their home base nationally and internationally: Halifax, Montreal, Saskatoon, Vancouver, Saudi Arabia, Singapore to name a few.

Contact

Dr. Anne Lui (Civic Campus) alui@toh.ca
Dr. Alan Lane (General Campus) alane@toh.ca

More information:
Regional Anesthesiology Program at TOH

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Last updated on: May 15th, 2017