These 2 types of anesthesia numb your body from the chest down to the legs. The medication is placed directly into the spine area.
Spinal and epidural anesthesia is frequently given for:
Advantages of these types of anesthesia include:
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
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 medication 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 medication if you need it. After the surgery, a bandage will be placed over the injection spot.
Giving spinal or epidural anesthesia usually takes about 15 minutes.
It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Society of Anesthesiologists
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Canadian Anesthesiologists' Society
Epidural anesthesia. Baylor College of Medicine website. Available at: https://www.bcm.edu/healthcare/care-centers/anesthesiology/for-patients/epidural-analgesia. Updated August 2010. Accessed October 2, 2017.
Spinal anesthesia simulation. University of Florida website. Available at: http://vam.anest.ufl.edu/simulations/spinalanesthesia.php. Accessed October 2, 2017.
Regional anesthesia.https://www.bcm.edu/healthcare/care-centers/anesthesiology/for-patients/regional-anesthesia. Baylor College of Medicine website. Available at: https://www.bcm.edu/healthcare/care-centers/anesthesiology/patient-information/regional-anesthesia. Updated August 2010. Accessed October 2, 2017.
Spinal anaesthetic. Patient website. Available at: https://patient.info/health/spinal-anaesthetic. Updated August 17, 2017. Accessed October 2, 2017.
6/2/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T905141/Treatment-for-tobacco-use: 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.
12/30/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance https://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T130450/Epidural-analgesia-during-labor: 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 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.