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Peripheral Nerve Block Anesthesia

What is Anesthesia?

Anesthesia (an-iss-thee-zuh) is medicine to make you comfortable during surgery or a procedure. There are many types of anesthesia. The anesthesia medicine may be given in your IV, through a face mask, or through a tube in your nose or throat. It can also be given as a shot in your back or as a shot in the area where you will have surgery. The type of anesthesia you may have depends on the type of surgery or procedure you are having. You and your caregiver have decided that peripheral (per-ih-fur-ull) nerve block anesthesia is best for you.

What is Peripheral Nerve Block Anesthesia?

With a peripheral nerve block anesthesia just your arm or leg is numb during surgery. Peripheral nerve block anesthesia can be used for many kinds of surgeries or procedures on your arm or leg. Tell your anesthesia caregiver if you or anyone in your family has ever had any problems with anesthesia. Remember to tell your anesthesia caregiver if you have ever had a very high temperature during or after surgery.


Before the surgery or procedure, you may be given medicine in your IV to make you feel sleepy and more relaxed. Caregivers help you get comfortable on the operating room bed. Anesthesia caregivers use machines to see how your body is doing.

  • Pulse oximeter: A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your finger, ear, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine. Never turn the pulse oximeter or alarm off. An alarm will sound if your oxygen level is low or cannot be read.
  • Vital signs: Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.
  • Getting Peripheral Nerve Block: Your skin is cleaned with a special soap. A small hand-held machine called a nerve stimulator may be used to help find the nerves that control feeling in the surgical area. After the nerve is found, a needle is put into your skin near the nerve. Medicine is put through the needle and then the needle is removed. Your arm or leg becomes numb. You will not be able to move your arm or leg for about 15 to 20 minutes after you get the medicine. Caregivers will not start surgery until your arm or leg is numb.
  • After Getting Anesthesia: After surgery you are taken to a room where you can rest until the numbness goes away. You may then be allowed to go home. If you are staying in the hospital you may be taken back to your room. You may not be able to feel pain in your arm or leg for 4 to 18 hours. This makes it easier to hurt or burn yourself. Avoid bumping your arm or leg.

Informed Consent:

  • You have the right to understand your health condition in words that you know. You should be told what tests, treatments, or procedures may be done to treat your condition. Your caregiver should also tell you about the risks and benefits of each treatment. You may be asked to sign a consent form that gives caregivers permission to do certain tests, treatments or procedures. If you are unable to give your consent, someone who has permission can sign this form for you. A consent form is a legal piece of paper that tells exactly what will be done to you. This consent also gives permission for anesthesia. Before giving your consent, make sure all your questions have been answered so that you understand what may happen.


The following are risks that may happen with peripheral nerve block anesthesia. Caregivers will watch you closely and treat any problems. Call your caregiver if you are worried or have questions about your care.

  • You could have a bad reaction to the medicine.
  • You could feel nauseated (sick to your stomach) during or after surgery.
  • It may take awhile for the medicine to wear off before you can feel and move normally.
  • You could have a seizure or heart attack.
  • You could have long-lasting numbness, pain, or loss of function of body parts.
  • Your thinking may be unclear. Do not make important decisions for 24 hours after having peripheral nerve block anesthesia.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.