S. Flack, M.D.
Umbilical and epigastric hernias are common pediatric surgical procedures that are performed on children. Providing excellent, postoperative pain management for these children is an important goal of any anesthesiologist taking care of children. When effective pain management is provided this allows for early mobilization and discharge from the hospital. When a comfortable patient is brought back to the parents from recovery this reassures the parents. However providing pain relief in the postoperative period poses some challenges. Many oral and intravenous pain medications have side-effects which may limit the amount that can be administered thereby reducing their effectiveness. These side-effects include drowsiness, respiratory depression, itching, urinary retention and bleeding.
The use of local anesthetics can be extremely effective in limiting pain and reducing the amount of pain medications required by a patient. Local anesthetics can be administered in a variety of ways. There are two methods used daily in the operating rooms here at Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center. One method is for the surgeon to inject a local anesthetic around the surgical wound at the end of the operation. This is called local infiltration. Another method used is a nerve block. This is when the nerves that supply sensation to the surgery site are injected with local anesthetic.