Anaesthesia

Young woman receiving medication injection in hospital

Anaesthetics

Anaesthetics are used during surgery to numb certain areas or to induce sleep.  The types of anaesthetics which are used in the upper limb surgery are local anaesthetic, regional anaesthetic, and general anaesthetic.  The surgeon and the anaesthetist will discuss with you regarding this during the clinic visit and on the day of surgery.

 

Local anaesthetics

They are generally safer and do not cause you to lose consciousness.  The recovery after local anaesthetic is faster.  The surgeon injects the local anaesthetic, similar to the one in dentist, in the area of surgery and performs the surgery.  The local anaesthetic effect usually lasts around eight hours.  Sometimes it can last longer.  The surgeons usually advise the patients to take some painkillers when they start getting the sensation back in that region.

 

Regional anaesthetic

This is usually performed to numb the nerves supplying a particular part of a body such as the entire hand, arm or the whole upper limb.  The anaesthetist uses ultrasound scan to pinpoint the nerve on the top of the shoulder or along the course of nerve and they inject local anaesthetic to numb the nerves of the entire limb.  It usually takes about 30 minutes for it to be fully effective.

Regional anaesthetic has all the advantages of local anaesthetics.  However in major surgeries the anaesthetists often combine the regional anaesthesia with sedation to make you feel more relaxed and comfortable.

 

General anaesthetic

General anaesthetic is used in more complex surgeries which takes you to a state of controlled unconsciousness so that you are unaware of the surgery and do not feel any pain when it is carried out.  General anaesthetics can affect your memory, concentration, and reflections for a day or two so it is suggested to have a responsible adult to stay with you for at least 24 hours after surgery.  Also after a general anaesthetic you will be advised to avoid driving, drinking alcohol and signing any legal documents for 24 to 48 hours.
For further information, please visit:

  1. General guidance: http://www.rcoa.ac.uk/system/files/01-AnaesExplained.pdf
  1. Specific Guidance: http://www.rcoa.ac.uk/node/3324
  1. Risks: http://www.rcoa.ac.uk/node/428

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