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Anesthesia | Spinal vs. Epidural

From the Pre-Op Hysterectomy Articles List

Spinal vs. Epidural AnesthesiaWhat is the difference between spinal and epidural anesthesia?

Both spinal and epidural are types of regional anesthesia that can be used during gynecologic surgeries such as a hysterectomy. For hysterectomy, they both involve injections into the lower back to numb the abdominal and pelvic regions for surgery.

For a spinal, the medications will be injected directly into the cerebrospinal fluid using a much smaller needle. For an epidural, a larger needle is used to inject the medications into the space between the outer membrane and the spinal cord; it will not be injected directly into the spinal fluid but rather next to the membrane protecting the spinal fluid.

Typically, only one injection is used for a spinal, whereas for an epidural a catheter is inserted and left in place so subsequent medications can be delivered.

It can be quicker to administer spinal anesthesia than epidural anesthesia because of the need to insert the catheter and do a test dose with the epidural.

Only small doses of anesthetic are needed with spinal anesthesia since they spread easily through the spinal fluid. Larger doses of medications are needed with an epidural since they need to penetrate tissue.

A spinal can take effect more quickly than an epidural, and it may not last as long.

Besides being administered in different tissues, different medications can be used with each choice.


This content was written by staff of HysterSisters.com by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.

05-06-2014 - 05:42 PM


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