Local Anesthesia

Topic Overview

Local anesthesia uses medicine to block sensations of pain from a specific area of the body. Local anesthetics are usually given by injection into the body area that needs to be anesthetized. They are not injected into the bloodstream (intravenous, IV).

Local anesthetics may be given with other medicines that make you relaxed or sleepy (sedatives). These other medicines are often given by IV.

Local anesthesia is most often used when:

  • A minor procedure doesn't require general or regional anesthesia.
  • A surgery can be done in a short time and you will go home soon after.
  • A surgery does not require unconsciousness or extreme muscle relaxation.

Less commonly, local anesthesia may be applied directly to the skin or mucous membranes as a cream or ointment. This is called topical anesthesia. Topical local anesthesia is used for very minor procedures on the surface of the skin.

Risks and complications from local anesthesia

When used properly, local anesthetics are safe and have few major side effects. But in high doses, local anesthetics can have toxic effects caused by being absorbed through the bloodstream into the rest of the body (systemic toxicity). This may significantly affect your breathing, heartbeat, blood pressure, and other body functions. Because of these potential toxic effects, equipment for emergency care must be immediately available when local anesthetics are used.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer John M. Freedman, MD - Anesthesiology
Last Revised September 30, 2011

Last Revised: September 30, 2011

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

First Nurse

First Nurse

Call First Nurse 24 Hours a Day for free health care advice, resources and referrals!

Ames: 515-239-6877
In Iowa: 800-524-6877 

Search health information online in our Mulimedia Health Library.

High Quality Care

Guardian of Excellence

Mary Greeley consistently delivers high quality patient care.

  • 2013 Guardian of Excellence Award for Clinical Quality
  • Grade 'A' Patient Safety from the Leapfrog Group
  • 2013 Top Performer on Key Quality Measures ranking from The Joint Commission
  • Highest percentage bonus of any Iowa hospital in Medicare's quality incentive program

Mary Greeley on Facebook

Like us on Facebook

Patient Privacy | Net Learning for Employees | MGMC PACS for Physicians
Emergency Preparedness

1111 Duff Avenue Ames, IA 50010 - 515-239-2011 - yourhealth.mgmc@mgmc.com

©2014 Mary Greeley Medical Center - All rights reserved.