MEDIA RELEASES

Regional Anaesthetic Assists Speedy Recovery

In recognition of National Anaesthesia Day on October 17, Northland District Health Board is sharing stories of patients who have benefited from regional anaesthesia during surgery.

Susan Jones of Kerikeri benefited from regional anaesthesia when she had a malignant tumour removed from her bowel at Whangarei Hospital on July 25.

Susan had an epidural put in a space near her spine for the operation which allowed a much quicker recovery than general anaesthetic would have allowed.

The epidural space is close to the spine, and an epidural catheter allows anaesthetists to put local anaesthetic into that space to numb the nerves as they travel to and from the spine. An epidural catheter can be placed in the epidural space to allow anaesthesia to be administered before, during and after surgery.

“They didn’t have to put a mask on my face and tell me to breathe. There was no gas, nothing,” Susan said.

Regional anaesthesia is helpful for patients to return to a state in which they are suitable to be discharged more quickly than general anaesthetic would allow.

“I was in for eight days, it was a big operation. They took out a huge piece of my bowel,” Susan said. “Following the anaesthetic I woke up to quite severe pain but they were able to administer pain relief through the epidural and bring my pain down quickly.”

Susan said the epidural was “not all invasive” and the catheter which delivered pain relief remained in her back for around five days.

“As soon as [nurses] took the epidural and catheter out, within half a day I was able to walk around normally.”

When surgery was carried out, it was not known whether the tumour on Susan’s bowel was benign or malignant.

“But when they removed it they discovered it did have cancerous cells.”

Susan was given an ileostomy during the surgery. This is a surgical operation in which a damaged part is removed from the ileum and the cut end diverted to an artificial opening in the abdominal wall.

Healing from such surgery is challenging, but Susan has been helped through the life-threatening stage by expert application of regional anaesthetic.

Susan will need her ileostomy closed three to six months from now.

“The whole thing was just an amazing experience. I felt everything done was just so good, from the anaesthetists to the surgeons to the nurses.”



Susan Jones


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