What is spinal, epidural and caudal anesthesia in children?

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Spinal, epidural, and caudal anesthesia in children: Overview

Spinal, epidural, and caudal anesthesia are used to block pain from an entire area of the body. These pain relief methods are often used for surgeries on the belly, pelvis, or legs.

For spinal, a single shot of medicine is given near the spinal cord. For epidural, medicine is usually given through a small tube (catheter) that's inserted into the area near the spinal cord. This tube is left in place so that more medicine can be given as needed. Caudal anesthesia is a type of epidural that is given as a shot at the tailbone. Sometimes a catheter is also used. Sometimes both spinal and epidural are used. Spinal offers quick pain relief. Then the epidural can offer relief for longer.

Side effects can include a headache, nausea, or soreness at the injection site. In rare cases, nerve damage can cause long-term numbness, weakness, or pain. Serious side effects are rare.

What are the risks of spinal, epidural, and caudal anesthesia in children?

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

Spinal, epidural, and caudal anesthesia in children: When to call

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or worse back pain.
  • Your child has increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness at the injection site.
  • Your child won't stop crying or seems very irritable.
  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has a new or worse headache.
  • Your child has a stiff neck.
  • Your child has tingling, weakness, or numbness in their legs or groin.
  • Your child has trouble urinating or can pass only very small amounts of urine.

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

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

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