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Abstract

General anesthesia (GA) and local anesthesia (LA) evolved on separate tracks. Procedures that could not be performed under LA were typically conducted under GA. Decoding of afferent linkage of peripheral noxious stimuli has provided important understanding that may change the way we traditionally treat surgical pain. In the 1980s, animal studies suggested that preemptive peripheral blocking of painful (nociceptive) stimuli to the central nervous system with regional anesthesia or LA and nonsteroidal analgesics could be beneficial in attenuating postoperative pain. Clinical studies based on this knowledge suggest combining LA with GA, and perhaps non-steroidal analgesics with or without narcotics, to reduce the severity of postoperative pain. General anesthetics can be given in lower minimal alveolar concentration when combined with LA, and recovery characteristics are superior. Increasing evidence suggests that the combined use of GA and LA may reduce the afferent barrage of surgery, and that preemptive analgesia may reduce postoperative pain and should be used in patient care. This article reviews the evidence supporting the combined use of LA or analgesics with GA or sedation to provide improved pain management after surgery.

Keywords: General anesthesia; Local anesthesia; Nerve block; Analgesics, Postoperative pain; Pain
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Copyright: © 2005 by the American Dental Society of Anesthesiology
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