Unlike general anesthetics, regional anesthesia blocks pain in a specific area of the body. It can also provide total pain relief without the risks of opiate-based painkillers.
At Children's Medical Center, we follow a patient-centered model of treatment. By putting the patient first, we bring together all the hospital's resources to meet a child's needs. Critical care physicians work with nurses, respiratory care therapists and others to ensure the best and most innovative treatment is available for each child at a moment's notice.
Types of regional anesthesia
There are three main types of regional anesthetics that are used to numb or block pain.
- Epidural: An anesthesiologist injects medicine into the "epidural space" (located just outside the sac of fluid surrounding the child's spinal cord).
- Caudal block: This type is similar to an epidural, except the anesthesiologist inserts the needle into the child’s tailbone (below the spine).
- Spinal block: The medicine is injected directly into the spinal fluid. A catheter is left in place to deliver more medicine as needed.
Patients served by regional anesthesia
Regional anesthesia has benefits for children over other types of anesthetics, including improved pain relief and shorter recovery times. Healthcare providers use regional anesthesia when
- The procedure is too painful for analgesics or local anesthesia
- The procedure involves the abdomen, legs or feet
- Patients need shorter recovery times
- To minimize side effects associated with general anesthesia
To provide support for patients with acute life-threatening conditions, Children's has 83 intensive care beds. Children's Pediatric ICU also conducts leading-edge research and brings new therapies to patients — often years before they are available at other institutions. Our critical care physicians deliver a full range of intensive care services for infants and children, including regional anesthesia.