14 doctors weighed in:
Why did nerve block fail and intubation general have to happen to my son? He needed arm surgery at 15.
14 doctors weighed in

Dr. Scott Mackinnon
Anesthesiology
7 doctors agree
In brief: Failed block
Regional blocks can "fail" for many reasons, most often it is because the local anesthetic may not come in adequate contact with the nerve that the clinician is attempting to anesthetize.
This happens occasionally, and any patient having this done must realize that the possibility of a general anesthesia "back up" may be required.

In brief: Failed block
Regional blocks can "fail" for many reasons, most often it is because the local anesthetic may not come in adequate contact with the nerve that the clinician is attempting to anesthetize.
This happens occasionally, and any patient having this done must realize that the possibility of a general anesthesia "back up" may be required.
Dr. Scott Mackinnon
Dr. Scott Mackinnon
Thank
Dr. Karen Sibert
Anesthesiology
6 doctors agree
In brief: Happens sometimes
Nerve blocks sometimes fail even when done by very experienced doctors.
The fall-back option is always general anesthesia. Sometimes too, even though a block is working, teenagers respond unpredictably to sedatives and may become cooperative or restless. They may need to be completely asleep for surgery to finish safely. Some anesthesiologists don't give nerve blocks to teens for this reason.

In brief: Happens sometimes
Nerve blocks sometimes fail even when done by very experienced doctors.
The fall-back option is always general anesthesia. Sometimes too, even though a block is working, teenagers respond unpredictably to sedatives and may become cooperative or restless. They may need to be completely asleep for surgery to finish safely. Some anesthesiologists don't give nerve blocks to teens for this reason.
Dr. Karen Sibert
Dr. Karen Sibert
Thank
Dr. Janice Vaughn
Anesthesiology
2 doctors agree
In brief: What surgery
What kind of surgery did he have? Sometimes with a regional block and the patient is sedated, they are still moving on the table.
This is dangerous for your son and a moving target for the surgeon. The next best thing is to move on to a general anesthesia. Depending on the case, this requires intubation.

In brief: What surgery
What kind of surgery did he have? Sometimes with a regional block and the patient is sedated, they are still moving on the table.
This is dangerous for your son and a moving target for the surgeon. The next best thing is to move on to a general anesthesia. Depending on the case, this requires intubation.
Dr. Janice Vaughn
Dr. Janice Vaughn
Thank
Dr. Matt Malkin
Anesthesiology
2 doctors agree
In brief: Can happen
Nerve blocks are very good methods of pain relief.
However, they may be less-reliable as a standalone surgical anesthetic. This can happen even with an excellent block, and may depend on the individual or surgical technique. Often are combined with general anesthesia electively. Should still have good post-op pain control with it. Depends on circumstances and anesthesiologist judgment.

In brief: Can happen
Nerve blocks are very good methods of pain relief.
However, they may be less-reliable as a standalone surgical anesthetic. This can happen even with an excellent block, and may depend on the individual or surgical technique. Often are combined with general anesthesia electively. Should still have good post-op pain control with it. Depends on circumstances and anesthesiologist judgment.
Dr. Matt Malkin
Dr. Matt Malkin
Thank
Dr. David Rosenfeld
Pain Management
2 doctors agree
In brief: It happens
Nerve blocks fail sometimes.
Often it is not a complete "does not work" but rather that the level of numbness/anesthesia is simply not adequate.

In brief: It happens
Nerve blocks fail sometimes.
Often it is not a complete "does not work" but rather that the level of numbness/anesthesia is simply not adequate.
Dr. David Rosenfeld
Dr. David Rosenfeld
Thank
In brief: It happens
It can happen but general anesthesia is safe.

In brief: It happens
It can happen but general anesthesia is safe.
Dr. Terry Simpson
Dr. Terry Simpson
Thank
Get help from a real doctor now
Dr. Jonathan Jassey
Board Certified, Pediatrics
13 years in practice
1M people helped
Continue
108,000 doctors available
Read more answers from doctors