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Spinals and Epidurals Spinals and Epidurals

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Unread 05-09-2002, 07:54 PM
Spinals and Epidurals

Hi Ladies,

I'm rather confused about the difference between spinal anesthesia and epidural anesthesia. Could anyone clarify it for me?

I don't know yet what my options are regarding anesthesia, but would like to know all I can ahead of time about the benefits and drawbacks of each.



May Flower
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Unread 05-09-2002, 08:10 PM
Difference between Spinal and Epidural

Both kinds are regional anesthetics. For an epidural (like is used during labor) the anesthetist injects a local anesthetic into the space that surrounds the spinal cord (called the "epidural space").
Narcotics like fentanyl and sufentanil are given continuously so you don't feel labor pains.

A spinal anesthesia happens when the anesthetic is injected into the central canal of the spinal cord. They use that for a c-section where they don't use general anesthesia or even during some vaginal deliveries. Some women get a headache and it keeps women from pushing, so they give it right before delivery. This type of anesthesia will make you numb from the lumbar area down to your toes.

Hope that helps.


Nurse Charlotte
Unread 05-09-2002, 08:30 PM
Spinals and Epidurals

Hi, Ladies,

Good news! Medical science has improved all types of anesthesia, in the last few years. Smaller catheters are used for epidural and spinal anesthesia. Women who have spinal anesthesia are now far less likely to experience "spinal headaches."

My TVH/BSO was done under spinal anesthesia with sedation. I had problems with general anesthesia in the past. With the spinal, I was not unconscious, yet I have absolutely no memory of the surgery. I didn't have a headache afterwards, and I arrived in my room completely alert, and ready to walk. For me, this was the best anesthesia experience ever.

It's a good idea to discuss anesthesia options with your anesthesiologist before your surgery, so you'll be well-informed, and can make the best choice for yourself.

Best wishes,
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Unread 05-09-2002, 08:50 PM
Spinals and Epidurals

I also had a spinal (with a happy shot beforehand). I do remember some of my surgery but the versed gave me the "don't cares" so it was not in any way disturbing.

I talked to the anesthesiologist about the spinal option right before surgery. He said that headaches were much more common in the past, but the smaller catheters have cut them considerably, although he said he thought something like 7% will still get them. In the past people who had spinals had to lay flat on their backs for up to 24 hours after surgery and that's no longer true either. I decided to go with the spinal and was very happy with the results.

Good luck!
Unread 05-10-2002, 05:48 AM
Spinals and Epidurals

Just to be clear, with the spinal you will be completely numb down to your toes and won't be able to move anything. With the epidural, you will be numb only in your midsectin and will still be able to move your feet. For me, that was a major difference. I had a strong sense of claustrophobia with my spinal (one C-section) and started to freak out on the operating table (I was not under general anesthesia). They had to start me on morphine just to calm me down. But with the epidurals (one c-section and the hysterectomy), I didn't have that feeling at all. I was awake during the first epidural and could move my feet and feel them pulling and pushing, etc., but absolutely no pain at all. I was even joking with the OR staff. They put me to sleep with my hysterectomy along with the epidural because they didn't know what they were going to find.
Unread 05-10-2002, 06:46 AM
Spinals and Epidurals

I had a spinal with Valium for my hyst. The weird feeling was a little disturbing, but the Valium helped in a major way. I'd opt for regional anesthesia anytime!!!!

Good luck,

Unread 05-10-2002, 12:29 PM
Spinals and Epidurals

I had an epidural with sedation, and would highly recommend it to anyone who is worried about general anesthesia. I came out of surgery feeling great (just a little queasy when I ate my wonderful liquid lunch). Pain management was excellent. I was numb only in the region of the operation, and was able to be up and walking that evening.

Blessings -

(TAH/BSO 4/19/02 for fibroids, ovarian cysts and endo)
Unread 05-10-2002, 12:53 PM
Spinals and Epidurals

I had both spinal and epidural. The dr said the spinal had more drug in it and I wouldn't feel as much if I had an epidural. He told me it involved one puncture (it hurt less than the I.V.) and the epidural stayed in for post op pain relief so I didn't have to deal with a morophine pain pump and worry about being groggy or nauseated. Morphine in an epidural/spinal doesn't have the same circulation--effects are limited to nerve-endings in lower portion of body and drug does not cross brain/blood barrier.
The sedation used with a regional is different from the sedation used for general. And with a regional, the level of sedation can be varied (light--just relaxed, medium-groggy, heavy--sleep through it all).
Unread 05-10-2002, 01:06 PM
Spinals and Epidurals

Thanks for the information.

After reading your posts, I think I will ask for an epidural (I don't think I'd like my legs being numb and not being able to walk.) I also would like to be put to sleep. (Will the anesthesia they give me for that make me sick?)

I'm hoping my A man and Dr. will be agreeable.

s to each of you,


Unread 05-10-2002, 01:08 PM
Spinals and Epidurals

I had a spinal with my TAH. When my children were born, I had an epidural with one C-section and a spinal with the other. When it came time for my TAH, the doctor I have now would only do it with a spinal. That was fine with me since I didn't have a problem with either method. I do think that I had more of a claustrophobic feeling (someone else just mentioned this) with the spinal, although for me, what bothered me more during my surgery was the oxygen mask on my face. I couldn't stand that and said so. They gave me the skinny thing that goes in your nose and I felt much better LOL. With the spinal, It's like there's a ton of granite on your legs and no matter how hard you try, you can't move them LOL. It was weird because after my surgery, in recovery, I kept thinking that my knees were up in the air and they weren't! What an odd feeling to see that they were lying flat on the bed. Anyway, the spinal worked fine for me and I didn't feel sick or have a headache at all. It was definitely the way to go for me.

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