Epidural Anesthesia

Modified on 2009/10/14 21:35 by admin
Epidural anesthesia is regional anesthesia and is often used during childbirth and surgical procedures performed below the ribcage. While generally safe and effective, complications of epidural anesthesia can be serious and even life threatening.

Anesthetic drugs are administered through a needle or other tube that is inserted into the spinal column. The needle is inserted so that it punctures the spinal column and comes to rest in the epidural space, just outside of the sac that contains the spinal cord. The drugs are dispensed into the epidural space where they act to block the sensation of pain. For this reason, epidural anesthesia is also known as an epidural block.

Doctors, anesthesiologists, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are taught to use the "Four Ps" when performing epidural anesthesia:


The proper needle must be selected. Some needles are designed to administer one dose of anesthetics, others deliver a continuous flow of medication.


For adults, the prone position (on stomach) is typically used. In addition, a pillow may be placed under the belly to assist the procedure.

Projection & Puncture

The doctor or other healthcare professional must decide where to insert the needle. Once inserted, the healthcare professional must carefully advance the needle until it enters the epidural space. If the needle is inserted too far, it may puncture the sac encasing the spinal cord.

Complications associated with epidural anesthesia include:

- discomfort due to inadequate dosage of anesthetic,
- allergic reactions to the anesthetic, which can lead to nausea, vomiting and fever,
- nerve damage (paralysis) caused by negligent advancement of the needle (subarachnoid puncture or hematoma induced nerve injury) or through a toxic reaction to the anesthetic,
- breathing difficulties,
- seizures,
- cardiac arrest,
- dizziness,
- loss of consciousness,
- death.

If you have suffered severe injury due to negligent administration of epidural anesthesia, it may be important to contact an attorney who can help you protect your legal rights. Please keep in mind that there may be time limits within which you must commence suit.

See Also

  1. Medical Procedures: Overview
  2. Allergies: Overview
  3. Balance Problems: Overview
  4. Blood Clots
  5. Breathing: Overview
  6. Headaches
  7. Heart Attack Lawsuits
  8. Seizures: Overview
  9. Spinal Cord Injury
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