Local anesthetic nerve block (local anesthetic regional nerve blockade, or often simply nerve block) is a short-term nerve block, usually lasting hours or days, involving the injection of an anesthetic, a corticosteroid and other agents onto or near a nerve, usually for pain relief or anesthesia. A combination of local anesthetic (such as lidocaine), epinephrine, a steroid (corticosteroid) and an opioid is often used. Epinephrine produces constriction of the blood vessels which delays the diffusion of the anesthetic.
Steroids can help to reduce inflammation. Opioids are painkillers. These blocks can be either single treatments, multiple injections over a period of time, or continuous infusions. A continuous peripheral nerve block can be introduced into a limb undergoing surgery, for example, a femoral nerve block to prevent pain in knee replacement.
Local anesthetic nerve blocks are sterile procedures that are usually performed in an outpatient facility or hospital. The procedure can be performed with the help of ultrasound, fluoroscopy (a live X-ray) or CT. Use of any one of these imaging modalities enables the physician to view the placement of the needle. A probe positioning system can be used to hold the ultrasound transducer steady. Electrical stimulation can provide feedback on the proximity of the needle to the target nerve.
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