What is spinal and epidural anesthesia?

Spinal and Epidural Anesthesia
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Learning About Spinal and Epidural Regional Anesthesia

Spinal anesthesia

Spinal anesthesia is the injection of medicine near the spinal cord and the nerves around it in the lower back. It is used to numb the body below and sometimes above the site of injection. This may be used for some surgeries in the belly, legs, groin, and genitals.

First, the area is numbed. Then the spinal medicine is given through a needle.

What are the risks of spinal and epidural anesthesia?

Serious problems aren't common. There may be some side effects, such as a headache, nausea, or soreness at the injection site. Your heart or breathing can be affected by the medicine. In rare cases, nerve damage can cause long-term weakness or numbness.

What are spinal and epidural anesthesia?

Spinal and epidural anesthesia are ways to block pain from an entire region of the body.

A doctor or nurse with special training will give you numbing medicine. It's given near your spinal cord and the nerves around it.

You may get this medicine for a procedure on the lower part of your body. One example is a surgery on your lower belly, hips, or legs. It can also be used to help control pain after a procedure. Epidural anesthesia is often used in childbirth.

Spinal and epidural anesthesia: When to call

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse back pain.
  • You have increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness at the injection site.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have a new or worse headache.
  • You have a stiff neck.
  • You have tingling, weakness, or numbness in your legs or groin.
  • You have trouble urinating or can pass only very small amounts of urine.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

How are spinal and epidural anesthesia done?

An anesthesia specialist will inject numbing medicine into the area near the spinal cord. For spinal anesthesia, the medicine is given through a shot. For epidural anesthesia, a small tube is usually placed near the spine. The tube is used to supply the medicine as needed.

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