What is an Axillary Brachial Plexus Block?

Overview

This outpatient procedure numbs the arm and hand with an injection of local anesthetic. Typically, it is used before or after surgery on the elbow, forearm or hand.

Preparation

The patient lies down to expose the armpit. The area is cleaned and sterilized, and a local anesthetic is administered to numb the tissue at the injection site.

Locating the Nerves

The provider uses ultrasound or an electrical nerve stimulator to locate the brachial plexus nerves and the axillary artery, which pass through the upper arm. A needle is carefully guided through the armpit and down to the nerves.

Numbing the Nerves

Anesthetic is slowly injected through the needle, bathing the nerves and temporarily blocking sensation in the arm.

After Care

The numbing sensation will last for several hours after the injection. The arm will be placed in a sling until the nerve block wears off. When the anesthesia wears off, painkillers may be needed to alleviate pain from the procedure.

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