Peripheral nerve blocks (PNB) are widely-used for surgical anesthesia as well as for both postoperative and nonsurgical analgesia. PNBs offer distinct benefits over general or neuraxial anesthesia in certain clinical situations . In addition, PNBs provide analgesia that may be superior to other techniques for some patients.
This topic will discuss aspects of PNBs that are common to multiple blocks. Issues specific to particular blocks are discussed separately. (See "Peripheral nerve block: Techniques".)
USE OF NERVE BLOCKS
Indications — There are no specific indications for peripheral nerve blocks (PNBs). Blocks are often used to avoid the effects of alternative anesthetics or analgesics. The most common rationales for their use are to avoid side effects and complications of general anesthesia (GA), particularly respiratory-related effects, and to provide analgesia while minimizing opioid use.
Examples of circumstances in which PNBs might be preferable to GA as a sole anesthetic include:
●Patients at risk of respiratory depression related to GA (eg, obstructive sleep apnea, severe obesity, underlying pulmonary disease, advanced age)