These two types of anesthesia numb your body from the chest down to the legs. The medicine is placed directly into the spine area.
Spinal and epidural anesthesia is frequently given for surgeries involving:
Advantages of these types of anesthesia include:
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have spinal and epidural anesthesia, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the surgery.
Make sure that your doctor is aware of:
You will be connected to various monitors to keep track of your:
You may also have:
An area on your back above the spinal cord will be cleaned. A local anesthetic will be injected into the skin to numb the area. This is to decrease pain from the larger needle that will be put in your back. If you are getting spinal anesthesia, the doctor will give you one injection. The medicine will be sent directly into the sac of fluid that surrounds the spinal cord.
If you are getting epidural anesthesia, it may be delivered the same way. But, if you need more than one dose, you will have a tiny, flexible tube in place just outside of the fluid sac. This allows the doctor to give you more medicine if you need it. After the surgery, the doctor will place a bandage over the injection spot.
Giving spinal or epidural anesthesia usually takes about 15 minutes.
You will feel some pain when the needle is inserted.
This depends on the type of surgery being done.
If you received epidural anesthesia, the tube may be left in place to give you more medicine. When you no longer need pain control, the doctor will remove the tube.
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occur:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Society of Anesthesiologists
National Library of Medicine
The Canadian Anesthesiologists' Society
Anesthesia & you. American Society of Anesthesiologists website. Available at: http://www.asahq.o.... Accessed July 27, 2009.
Anesthesia: options and considerations. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com. Accessed September 16, 2003.
Miller RD. Anesthetic techniques. Miller Anesthesia. 7th ed. St. Louis, MO: Churchill Livingstone; 2009: 2223-2231.
Spinal anesthesia. University of Florida website. Available at: http://vam.anest.ufl.edu/simulations/spinalanesthesia.php. Updated April 2009. Accessed July 27, 2009.
6/3/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.
12/30/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Anim-Somuah M, Smyth RM, Jones L. Epidural versus non-epidural or no analgesia in labour. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011;12:CD000331.
Last reviewed September 2012 by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 09/26/2012