Spinal Block Versus Epidural

Both spinal and epidural anesthesia are usually given to numb the parts of the body to block the pain. This is given through shot in the spine. Patients administered with spinal block or epidural stays awake all the time.

Area that is subject to the insertion of the needle is your back, specifically your lower back. The area will be cleaned using a special solution, sometimes the part were the needle is inserted will be numbed with local anesthetic.

What is the Difference between Spinal and Epidural?

As for the epidural, the medicine is usually injected just outside the sac of fluid that is around your spinal cord which is commonly called epidural space. This medicine blocks or numbs certain part of the body so that you do not feel any pain at all. Medicine usually takes effect after ten to twenty minutes after administration. This type of pain blocking works for longer procedures and this is usually use in women during childbirth. Usually a small catheter is left in place where the patient can receive more medicine to control pain during and after a procedure.

For spinal, the anesthesiologist does not use any catheter. This is a one time injection into the fluid in the spinal cord. The medicine takes effect immediately. This type of pain blocking only work for shorter procedures.

Why is this procedure performed?

Spinal anesthesia is usually used for lower body procedures, urologic or genital. On the other hand, epidural anesthesia is use during labor and delivery as well as surgery in the legs and pelvis. Both of this procedure is often use if the labor or procedure is too painful; procedures involves the feet, legs, chest or belly; and if you want to have fewer side effects and fast recovery than general anesthesia.

What are the Risks?

Spinal and epidural block procedures are actually safe although there is a small percentage of risks which include the following – severe headache, bleeding around the spinal column, difficulty in urinating, allergic reaction, infection in the spine, nerve damage, low blood pressure or hypotension (Anesth Analg 2002).

After an epidural procedure the catheter then will be removed and you will lie in bed until you feel sensations again in your legs and you can now start to walk. You may feel sick, dizzy and tired. As for spinal anesthesia, you will be in bed for awhile and you have to lie flat in bed so as to prevent any headache. Same with epidural you will feel sick, dizzy and tired. Most patients who undergo epidural and spinal anesthesia feel no pain during the procedure and recovers fully.