Excellent and rapid anesthetization of an extremity can be obtained easily. Following insertion of an intravenous catheter in the limb of interest, a rubber bandage is used to force blood out of the limb, and a tourniquet is applied to prevent the blood from reentering; a dilute solution of local anesthetic, most commonly lido-caine, is then injected intravenously. This technique fills the limb's vasculature and carries the anesthetic solution to the nerve by means of the blood supply. Because of the pain produced by a tourniquet after some time, this procedure usually is limited to less than 1 hour. The systemic blood levels of drug achieved after tourniquet release generally remain below toxic levels.
Although it is more easily and therefore more commonly used on the upper extremity, intravenous extremity anesthesia can be used on the leg and thigh.
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