What are the risks of peripheral nerve catheter anesthesia?


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Martin Tramèr
Head of Division

All medical procedures involve risks, even when they are performed by experts. The rate and severity of these risks depend on your state of health, age or general lifestyle. The anesthesia techniques used are safe. The risks of unexpected and potentially life-threatening complications such as an allergy are extremely small. All necessary measures will be taken to prevent and treat any complications in the best possible way.

However, the following complications could occur:

  • When the catheter is placed:
    • Hematoma at the injection site: this usually resorbs spontaneously.
    • Pain in the anesthetized limb: common, though short-lived and without consequence.
    • Convulsions, breathing and cardiac problems: this occurs when the local anesthetic is accidentally injected into a blood vessel. These effects are rare and can be immediately corrected by medication and breathing assistance.
    • Nerve damage: this complication is rare and generally transient.
  • Later, during the period after surgery:
    • Disappearance of the analgesic effect due to shifting or disconnection of the catheter.
    • Infection at the catheter entry point: this requires specific treatment.
    • Risk of falling if the lower limb is anesthetized, due to loss of muscle function.
    • Other specific side effects depending on the area operated on: these effects are generally transient and will have been described by the doctor during your pre-anesthesia appointment.

Note : there may be other risks if additional treatments or monitoring measures are required. Likewise, the risk connected with the operation itself should be discussed with the surgeon.

If you notice or are concerned by any persistent symptom, make sure to talk with the anesthesia team, your surgeon or your own physician.

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Last update : 03/12/2019