Epidural pain management is effective in relieving post-operative pain. Under regional analgesia, a small tube (catheter) is inserted into the epidural space with the help of a needle, and local anesthetic, or a combination of a local anesthetic and an opioid, is continuously infused into the tube. This renders the surgical wound and its surrounding area completely numb, and no pain can be sensed. In epidural pain management, patients may sometimes need a urinary catheter.
When is epidural anesthesia used?
Epidural pain management is used in some major operations, when moderate to severe post-operative pain can be expected. In general, patients need to accept the use of this method, because inserting an epidural catheter requires some co-operation from the patient (arching the back, for example). Possible contraindications include bleeding disorders, use of anticoagulant medications, certain back and neural diseases, and the patient's objection. Epidural anesthesia is also prevented by a rash or infection in the area where the epidural catheter needs to be inserted.
What are the benefits
of epidural pain management?
Under optimal circumstances, epidural anesthesia is highly effective in managing post-operative pain. It contributes to the timely recovery of the patient, which may prevent post-operative complications, including pulmonary infections and prolonged pain.
What are the possible adverse side effects
of epidural anesthesia?
One side effect of epidural anesthesia is an excessive or unilateral loss of sensation in the lower limbs, which reduces the pain relief experienced at the surgical site. An epidural solution containing opioids may cause itching, nausea, dizziness, or fatigue. Serious complications are rare.
How is epidural pain management
The experience of post-operative pain varies from patient to patient. Therefore, epidural anesthesia is adjusted to meet the patient's need, by assessing pain and adjusting the concentration and flow rate of the anesthetic solution.
|Vertical cross-section of the spine:
The needle tip has reached the epidural space (blue). A catheter is inserted and a continuous flow of analgesic agents is administered through it.
An epidural catheter is fastened to the back using adhesive tape.