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Learning About Intravenous (IV) Regional Anesthesia

What is intravenous (IV) regional anesthesia?

Intravenous (IV) regional anesthesia is also sometimes called a Bier block. It uses numbing medicines to block pain in the arm or hand during a procedure.

How is it done?

A small tube (IV) is inserted into a vein in the hand of the arm that is being numbed. Then the arm is wrapped tightly from the hand up to above the area where the procedure will be done. This pushes blood out of the wrapped section back into the body.

A tight band is put around the arm at the top of the wrap. When the band is secure, the wrap is removed. Most of the blood stays above the band.

Then the doctor or nurse injects numbing medicine into the IV. The numbing medicine spreads through the part of the arm below the band and numbs it for the procedure.

What are the risks?

Problems from IV regional anesthesia aren't common. There may be soreness or bruising where the band was. There is a small risk of nerve damage. And if the medicine enters the bloodstream, there can be some side effects. Examples include ringing in the ears and dizziness. Rarely, the medicine can affect the heart.

Where can you learn more?

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