Epidural anesthesia is a numbing medication injected through a catheter placed in the epidural space of the spine. It can be used to numb the abdomen, groin, legs and feet. It does not put the patient to sleep, but blocks painful sensations during or after a medical procedure.
When It Is Used
Epidural anesthesia is commonly used to block the pain of childbirth, and for surgery on the hip and knee. It is used during major surgeries that may take a long time to perform. An epidural can also provide extended pain relief to a patient after a surgical procedure.
Patient Care And Safety
The type and amount of anesthesia used depends on the patient's need. An anesthesia provider will consider the patient’s health, medication use, allergies, medical history and past use of anesthesia to decide what is best for the patient.
Delivering Epidural Anesthesia
When administering an epidural, the anesthesia provider first numbs the skin of the insertion site. A needle is placed into this numbed tissue and pushed between the vertebrae of the lower or middle back and into the epidural space. A catheter is guided through the needle into this space, and the needle is removed. The anesthesia is delivered through this catheter.
The anesthesia provider monitors the patient as the anesthesia is delivered to make sure the patient is comfortable and pain free. The provider will adjust the dosage as needed. The epidural may be left in place for a few days after a procedure.