General anesthesia may result in low blood pressure, undesirable decreases in cardiac output, central nervous system depression, respiratory depression, loss of protective airway reflexes (such as coughing), need for tracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation, and residual anesthetic effects. The most important advantage of brachial plexus block is that it allows for the avoidance of general anesthesia and therefore its attendant complications and side effects. Although brachial plexus block is not without risk, it is usually less invasive and affects fewer organ systems than general anesthesia. Brachial plexus blockade may be a reasonable option when all of the following criteria are met:
- Surgery is expected to be limited to a region between the midpoint of the shoulder and the fingers
- There are no contraindications to a block such as infection at the intended injection site, significant bleeding disorder, anxiety, allergy or hypersensitivity to local anesthetics
- There will not be a need to perform an examination of the function of the blocked nerves immediately following the surgical procedure
- The patient prefers this technique over other available and reasonable approaches
Read more about this topic: Anesthesia Of The Brachial Plexus
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