Bachial Plexus Block

What is it?

Brachial plexus block is a regional anesthesia technique that is sometimes employed as an alternative or as an adjunct to general anesthesia for surgery of the upper extremity. This technique involves the injection of local anesthetic agents in close proximity to the brachial plexus, temporarily blocking the sensation and ability to move the upper extremity. The subject can remain awake during the ensuing surgical procedure, or s/he can be sedated or even fully anesthetized if necessary.

What are the benefits?

The most important advantage of brachial plexus block is that it allows for the avoidance of general anesthesia and therefore its attendant complications and side effects. Although brachial plexus block is not without risk, it usually affects fewer organ systems than general anesthesia. Brachial plexus blockade may be a reasonable option when all of the following criteria are met:

  • Surgery is expected to be limited to a region between the midpoint of the shoulder and the fingers
  • There are no contraindications to a block such as infection at the intended injection site, significant bleeding disorder, anxiety, allergy or hypersensitivity to local anesthetics
  • There will not be a need to perform an examination of the function of the blocked nerves immediately following the surgical procedure
  • The patient prefers this technique over other available and reasonable approaches

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