What is a Popliteal Fossa Block?

A Popliteal Fossa Block is an outpatient procedure used to temporarily numb the lower leg. The popliteal fossa is the anatomical term for the back of your knee joint. A block is a procedure that temporarily prevents the transmission of pain or other sensation signals through a specific nerve. In a popliteal fossa block, one or both of the tibial or peroneal branches of the sciatic nerve are bathed with an injection of local anesthesia. These nerve branches normally supply sensation to the muscles in the lower leg and foot, so this process temporarily blocks those sensations.

Who needs a Popliteal Fossa Block?

Often, this procedure is utilized prior to performing a surgery below the knee. This may be used before a variety of different procedures, such as surgery on the foot, ankle, or achilles tendon.

What are the steps in a Popliteal Fossa Block?

Preparing for the Procedure

Once the patient has been properly positioned and the popliteal fossa has been made clean and sterile, the injection site will be numbed with a local anesthetic.

Inserting the Needle

The physician will then locate the nerve or nerves to be blocked using special tools, often utilizing ultrasound or a needle that uses electric impulses to stimulate nerves. After locating the correct nerve, the physician will insert a needle through the popliteal fossa and to or near the nerve.

Performing the Injection

The physician will then inject anesthetic through the needle. This is done to bathe one or both of the nerves in the anesthetic in order to temporarily block sensation to that region of the body.

After a Popliteal Fossa Block

Once the injection has been completed and the block has begun, the numbing effects will last for hours. After the surgical procedure following the popliteal nerve block and once the effects of the block begin to wear off, your physician may prescribe or recommend pain medication to take in order to ease any pain.

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