Regional anaesthesia is the term given to a variety of techniques where an anaesthetist injects local anaesthetic around peripheral nerves or the spinal cord to create temporary paraesthesia or paralysis in that part of the body. These techniques can be so effective that they can allow surgery in awake patients, and they provide excellent analgesia allowing for the avoidance of strong opiates and anaesthetic options for patients in whom general anaesthesia may be particularly hazardous. Regional anaesthesia may also improve recovery and limit some common complications of surgery, such as nausea, vomiting, and ileus, but the evidence for some of these outcomes is less certain.
There is much debate amongst anaesthetists as to when regional anaesthesia should be used, the most effective techniques to provide regional anaesthesia, the safety and effectiveness of local anaesthetics, opiates and adjuncts that can be injected, the value of peripheral nerve blocks versus neuraxial blockade, and the complications that can occur.
This Special Collection presents the available evidence from Cochrane Reviews produced by Cochrane Anaesthesia and aims to better inform these debates and support decision-making when planning regional anaesthesia.