Orthopaedic surgery is most commonly performed under general anaesthesia. Procedures are often accompanied by moderate to severe pain due to the tissue trauma that occurs with injury and/or surgery.
Where possible, Dr Vanza utilizes a nerve block in addition to oral (tablet) and parenteral (injected) pain medications for post operative pain relief. The nerve block is usually performed in addition to a general anaesthetic or sedation. However, in certain circumstances the nerve block can be used as the sole anaesthetic eg. numbing a whole arm for a fractured forearm whilst staying awake. This is based on patient choice.
If a nerve block is chosen, it is usually performed under a light sedative which will be administered via the cannula. An ultrasound machine will be used to locate the nerves on the side of the procedure. Local anaesthetic will then be injected around these nerves. After 10-20 mins that particular part of the body will become numb. The nerve block will last between 8 and 24 hrs and works by blocking the pain signals reaching the brain. It also blocks the movement signals which means that moving the that part of the body will be difficult.
The advantages of a nerve block include:
- Minimal/reduced pain upon waking up from general anaesthesia
- Lighter general anaesthetic or sedation resulting in less drowsiness, nausea and vomiting
- Less requirement for pain killers after the operation