Local anesthesia involves numbing a particular part of the body--as opposed to general anesthesia, which anesthetizes the entire body and causes unconsciousness. While many people associate local anesthetics with dental surgeries, it is also used by many OB-GYNs for non-invasive procedures that only require pain abatement in a particular area. These outpatient procedures, in which the patient is awake, are less expensive, less time-consuming, and require a shorter healing period.
A study published by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists evaluated pain control methods used in gynecologic office procedures. The study found that intrauterine local anesthesia was very effective in combating pain in endometrial biopsy and curettage.
While results were mixed, overall, the evidence supports intrauterine local anesthesia in hysteroscopy.
It did not seem to reduce pain during a hysterosalpingography, however. Nor was there sufficient evidence to support its use to relieve pain during tubal sterilization, first-trimester abortion, saline-infusion ultrasonogram, and intrauterine device insertion.
Advantages of local anesthetics
Traditionally, most OB-GYN procedures involved major surgery and hospitalization. However, this process is extremely expensive and has a long recovery time. The ability to perform some of these procedures in an office or clinic using local anesthesia provides many benefits. It is less invasive and less expensive; in addition it is more convenient for the patient, and does not require an extensive recovery period.
Dangers of local anesthesia
All anesthesias involves risks, and local anesthetics are no exception. Allergic reactions, while rare, can range from rashes to hypotension. While also rare, central nervous system toxicity can also occur, with early warning signs such as light-headedness, dizziness and slurred speech. Advanced stages of toxicity include twitches and seizures. Consult an Atlanta-area OB-GYN to determine the best course of action for you when using local anesthetics during non-invasive procedures.