Anesthesia for Shoulder Surgery
This handout explains the types of anesthesia used for shoulder surgery. It is important to partner
with your surgeon and anesthesia doctor to choose the best pain relief for you.
Shoulder Surgery Procedure (General
anesthesia is used)
This is where you will start your day. While
in this area, you will:
1. Talk about your health and anesthesia
plan with your anesthesia doctor.
2. Have an IV placed in the arm you are
not having surgery on.
3. Meet the block team and have a nerve
4. Meet the OR nurses and the rest of
5. Get a medicine in your IV to help you
The Operating Room
This is where the surgery takes place. When
in the OR, you will:
1. Be moved onto a bed and have
2. Confirm your name, birthday, surgery,
and allergies with the team.
3. Take deep breaths of oxygen and get
IV medicine that will make you sleepy.
4. Have a breathing tube put in after you
5. Be positioned on your side. Your arm,
neck, and legs will be well supported
6. Wake up when surgery is over and
have the breathing tube pulled out.
People often do not remember
anything until the recovery room.
7. Have a nurse manage any issues that
arise when you get to the recovery
A Nerve Block
Almost all patients having shoulder surgery
have the option to get a single shot or nerve
block catheter. Both of these numb the
nerves in your neck that supply feeling to
your shoulder and arm. You will meet the
block team while in the pre-operative area.
They will talk to you about what to expect
and get you ready.
Steps for Getting a Block
When a decision is made about the best type
of block for you, we will watch you closely
to assure safety. While your block is placed,
your arm will “jump”. This is normal. Your
arm may start to get numb before you go to
the OR. The steps we will do:
1. Confirm your name, date of birth,
surgery, and allergies.
2. Position you for your block.
3. You will be given medicine to make
Comparison of Nerve Block to Nerve Catheter
How is it given? A medicine given
through an IV
A one-time shot A very small tube left in
Time it takes to place N/A 5 – 10 minutes 20 – 30 minutes
Duration of pain
12 – 15 hours Gives medicine nonstop
48 – 72 hours
from the patient
None None Patient will remove the
catheter at home.
Additional equipment A breathing tube None Will go home with a
small pump that infuses
Patient will return the
pump by mail in a
How it is placed N/A Ultrasound and nerve
Ultrasound and nerve
Benefits You will be fully
Less pain with rest
ξ Sore throat
ξ Groggy feeling
when you wake
ξ Nerve damage
ξ Breathing problems
ξ Nerve damage
ξ Infection (slightly
higher risk but still
ξ Cannot have if on a
ξ Breathing problems
We look forward to meeting with you. We will discuss your options at that time. Patients’
options will vary based on health conditions and physician preferences.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you have
any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This is not
medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each person’s
health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using this
information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 8/2016 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and
Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing HF#7113.