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
Local anesthesia is most often used when:
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
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.
September 30, 2011
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& John M. Freedman, MD - Anesthesiology
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