Thursday October 6, 2016
Media alert – information for use in the week beginning October 10 to let the public know about the displays and
information available in hospitals on Monday, October 17
The benefits of regional anaesthesia – hospital displays and demonstrations
On Monday October 17, hospitals around New Zealand are marking National Anaesthesia Day with displays and demonstrations
for the public explaining the benefits of regional anaesthesia, this year’s National Anaesthesia Day theme.
Regional anaesthesia can be used for a wide range of operations and procedures, such as epidurals for pain relief during
childbirth and operations on limbs, including hip and knee replacements. It is often the only option for people too
unwell to cope with a full general anaesthetic.
Regional anaesthesia numbs only the part of the body being operated on. Patients may be awake for surgery under regional
anaesthesia and able to talk to their anaesthetist and other theatre staff. Or they can have a light general anaesthetic
or sedation as well, leaving them unconscious and unaware.
Hospitals with extensive interactive displays, ultrasound demonstrations on real people or mannequins, other anaesthetic
equipment (in some cases), patient information and anaesthetists to talk to will be available on Monday, October 17 at:
• Whangarei Hospital – main foyer
• North Shore Hospital – main foyer
• Auckland City Hospital – main atrium
• Middlemore Hospital – main foyer
• Manukau Super Clinic – foyer
• Tauranga Hospital – foyer
• Rotorua Hospital – main foyer
• Palmerston North Hospital – main foyer
• Hutt Hospital – main foyer
• Wellington Hospital – main foyer (morning only)
Ultrasound enables anaesthetists to see where they are directing the needle administering the regional anaesthetic. This
helps ensure its correct placement in relation to muscles, nerves and blood vessels. Auckland City Hospital’s display,
for instance, will include the use of anatomical models from the Auckland Medical School to show the public how and
where regional anaesthetic is administered.
The above hospitals will also have information displayed in outpatient clinics, anaesthetic pre-assessment clinics,
surgical admission units, etc.
As well as its foyer demonstrations at Whangarei Hospital, the Northland District Health Board has compiled a series of
stories from patients around the region talking about their experiences with regional anaesthesia. They also have a
feature about a specialist anaesthetist at Whangarei Hospital reflecting on changes in anaesthesia practice over the
last 30 years as he prepares for retirement.
Other hospitals around the country will also have public information stands with posters and patient flyers about
regional anaesthesia. They include:
• Elective Surgery Centre, North Shore Hospital
• Waitakere Hospital
• Gisborne Hospital
• Whakatane Hospital
• Whanganui Hospital
• Kenepuru Hospital
• Christchurch Hospital
• Burwood Hospital
• Timaru Hospital
• Dunedin Hospital
The benefits of regional anaesthesia include better pain control, faster recovery, fewer side effects and less stress on
the body. However, it is not for every patient and every procedure so the key message is that patients should talk to
their anaesthetist to find out whether regional anaesthesia would be best for them and their particular procedure.
The public are encouraged to visit their local displays to find out more about regional anaesthesia.
National Anaesthesia Day is an annual promotion by the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA)
marking the anniversary of the day (October 16) in 1846 when ether anaesthetic was first demonstrated publicly in
The aim of the promotion is to raise public awareness of anaesthesia generally and the range of work anaesthetists do.
ANZCA will be issuing media releases for use on Monday October 17 about the benefits of regional anaesthesia and the
importance of patients discussing this option with their anaesthetist; and about current research in this field,
including whether regional anaesthesia can produce better outcomes for breast cancer patients (Auckland City Hospital is
taking part in an international trial on this).
We have a number of experts in regional anaesthesia available to talk to the media.