What Is a Regional Nerve Block?

What is a regional nerve block?
profile picture of Robert Wool, MD
ByRobert Wool, MD
OB-GYN
Updated
Mar 2017
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As you might suspect from its name, a regional nerve block is a catchall term for any anesthetic that blocks pain to one particular area of the body. A local anesthetic like lidocaine or bupivacaine is administered to a primary nerve, blocking nerve impulses so there’s decreased sensation in the region that’s being targeted.

There are many kinds of regional nerve blocks, but the one you’re probably most familiar with is an epidural, which is given to more than half of women giving birth in U.S. hospitals today. Another one used in obstetrics and gynecology (although not very frequently) is a paracervical block, where the anesthesia is injected at the junction of the cervix and vagina to block pain to the region. Doctors tend to prefer the epidural block because it’s much safer to put in and uses a cocktail of medications for both short-term and long-lasting relief.

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