In regional anaesthesia, pain perception is switched off in the body region to be operated upon. The patient feels no pain and is more or less awake, depending on whether he or she wishes to receive a sedative. Regional anaesthesia is commonly used for pain relief in combination with general anaesthesia in children.
Methods of regional anaesthesia include spinal and epidural anaesthesia, with or without a spinal catheter to allow repeated drug administration, and anaesthesia of the nerve plexus in a single arm or leg, also with or without a catheter. A small amount of local anaesthetic is initially injected into the skin, so that the needle puncture is usually painless. The nerve pathways are then temporarily blocked by injection of the anaesthetic drug. In the rare case that the regional anaesthetic is not sufficient for the surgical procedure, it can be supplemented with analgesics or even general anaesthesia.
Respiration is monitored continuously, but generally requires no assistance. Supplemental oxygen may be given via a nasal cannula as needed.
The circulation is also monitored continuously, and supported by IV fluids or medications if needed. Patients routinely receive small amounts of IV saline infusion.