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What is an Epidural? What is an Epidural?

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Unread 07-16-2002, 10:55 AM
What is an Epidural?

Sorry for sounding dumb, but I thought an Epidural and Spinal were the same thing. Apparently not. Can someone please tell me what the difference is????

Never had a baby so I don't know.

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Unread 07-16-2002, 11:04 AM
Me Too!


I thought they were the same also.

I had a SAH (kept ovaries and cervix) 8 weeks ago. During the surgery, I had both general and epidural. The epidural stayed in 24 hours and I never felt a thing!
Unread 07-16-2002, 11:07 AM
OK, but I still don't know what it is

How is it administered?
What are the risks?

Someone please?

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Unread 07-16-2002, 11:09 AM
What is an Epidural?

The general was so I would sleep during the procedure. It was through an IV in my hand.

the epidural was in the small of my back. Put in after I was asleep, and help in place with surgical tape. It was connected to a small bag of pain medicine. This was to keep my pain under control after the surgery. It required no work on my part, and it never bothered me. I can honestly say that I was not in any pain after my surgery.

They took out my epidural the day after my surgery.
Unread 07-16-2002, 11:56 AM
epidural info

An epidural is similar to a spinal, but you are correct that they are different. A spinal is anesthetic administered directly into the area where the spinal cord is ( hence the name),,but an epidural is administered into the area just outside that. ( OK,, the spinal cord is surrounded by a protective sheath and fluid, then there is a second layer around that one that had both spinal fluid and a sheath..Like a cord inside a little tube which is inside a big tube..SORRY!!! I TALK MUCH BETTER WITH MY HANDS!! If you could only see the gestures I am making as I describe this to you! LOL

Typically they stick with epidurals these days for both childbirth and surgery because of increased safety by not invading the area immediately surrounding the spinal cord. There are of course risks, as they will explain, but the one to keep in mind is that it will occasionally cause a severe headache the next day, due to microscopic amounts of fluid leaking...it is fairly easily remedied,,but it horrible until they do fix it! ( this is really fresh in my mind because two women I worked with in labor( I am a doula) in the past month had this problem the day after delivery..they delivered one week apart, different hospitals. First time I had seen this! Only about 1/10 of my clients choose an epidural, so it obviously is a really rare problem.)

I didn't have an epidural for my hyst,,,,but I can sure see how it would be great, especially for that first waking up period when you are especially sore...

hope my rambeling helped!

Unread 07-16-2002, 12:05 PM
Thank You...

WOW! Great explanation. I will ask my anesthesiologist about it when I meet him next tuesday.


Unread 07-16-2002, 12:55 PM
What is an Epidural?

I also believe that they can keep administering meds through the epidural and with a spinal it is a "one shot" deal. That is what they told me. I had morphine in a spinal for a c-section. Disadvantage to that was they wouldn't give me anything for pain for 24 hours? Said it would be too much narcotics. My epidurals I could have meds for pain whenever I wanted. No sensations in either though. I wish I could have had my hyst this way.

Unread 07-16-2002, 03:54 PM
What is an Epidural?

Yes, a spinal is a one shot deal. The name 'spinal' is somewhat incorrect that it is no where near the spinal cord but goes into the fluid surrounding the cord with a very fine needle. The anesthesiologist knows where he/she is because they can see a flow of liquid back. The duration will depend on what local anesthetic is injected. Morphine can also be injected for up to 24 hours pain relief. It has a very rapid onset, you become numb immediately.

The epidural goes in the same part of your back but one space outside where the fluid is with a slightly larger needle although both should be pain free, all you should feel is pressure in your back. A larger amount of local anesthetic with or without narcotic can be injected either directly via the needle which is then removed or via a fine catheter which is inserted into the epidural space before the needle is removed. The difference from a spinal is that a larger amount of anesthetic is injected to produce the same effect and the onset of numbness is slower. The catheter can be left in to give more anesthetic or post operatively for pain medications. Because the anesthesiologist relies on 'feel' to locate the epidural space the block sometimes doesn't work so well (if the needle is not in the right space). Thus some anesthesiologists will recommend spinal over epidural based on their personal comfort with the technique and experience.

The most important is to discuss your options with the person providing your anesthetic, it's your body and you should feel comfortable with what's happening.

Best wishes,

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