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Epidural or PCA Epidural or PCA

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Unread 08-16-2002, 09:59 AM
Epidural or PCA


I spoke to my OB-GYN surgeon yesterday and she advised me I had the option (wow!) of going for the PCA pump or an epidural for pain management after my TAH/BSO. I kinda like the idea of not being too brain-fogged which I'm told the PCA pump brings on . But, I would like to get more feedback about this.

Should I go for this? If the catheter in attached to my spine, how can I lay down comfortably? Will it hurt when they take it out?

Appreciate more information on this. I know I should have asked these questions yesterday, but there was just too much information I was absorbing that it didn't really dawn on me until later.

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Unread 08-16-2002, 10:50 AM
Epidural or PCA

Hi Bambi,

You may get instant answers if you post this on the Post Op forum. Those girls have already had their surgery and will let you know. While you're waiting you can use the purple search bottom at the top of the page. Search using the word epidural.
Best of luck with your decision.

If I had a choise, I would like the epidural because I get very sick. Alot of the girls have had it and I have not heard anyone complaining about it bothering their back while they are resting.
Unread 08-16-2002, 11:50 AM
I had an epidural

I am two weeks post-op (feeling good!) and I had an epidural during surgery along with a mild general anesthetic because I did NOT want to know what was going.

On awakening from surgery, I didn't have any nausea and was eating solids the next day. I kept the epidural in for two days until the morning I left the hospital, at which time they switched me over to two Percosets every 3-4 hours.

I too wondered how I was able to sleep on and move with the needle in the spine, but I found out when they took the epidural off that it was taped the entire length of my spine so I never felt it move or dislodge or anything, even when the nurses asked me to turn on my side to sleep to avoid clots. I was nervous when she began to take the tape off and needle out, but I never even felt it.

The only negative I could see with the epidural was that my right thigh was very numb, such that when they took the catheter out on Friday morning (my surgery was on a Thursday morning), I couldn't walk to the bathroom to pee, so they reduced the amount of medication I was getting through the epidural and I was able to walk a couple of hours later and still didn't have any pain. I asked and was told the numbness is common with an epidural.

Good luck with your decision and don't worry; I hope you'll find, like I did, that thinking about it is worse than the actual experience!

(I also think you'll get some answers from the Post-Op forum, but I have to tell you that even tho' I'm post-op, I visit the Pre-Op forum all the time because everybody was so supportive and such a big help.)
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Unread 08-16-2002, 12:03 PM
Epidural or PCA

Thanks, Ladies.

Sometimes, it is good to hear someone's personal account rather than a doctor's opinion (although, at this stage, I'm trusting my doctor completely).

God Bless you and God Bless this website...

Unread 08-16-2002, 03:19 PM
Epidural or PCA

I don't know what type of anesthesia you will have during surgery but I can share my experience. You're dr. is right about the PCA and epidural.

I did not want general so my anesthesiolgist decided to go both spinal for the surgery and epidural for post op pain relief. One stick only. He said the spinal would be more drug and I didn't have to have a PCA pump because I wanted the epidural for post op pain relief. I would go the same way again if I had to. With my epidural the pump had a control on it that delivered medication on it's own so I didn't have to push any buttons. I hated general as it made me very very sick and I didn't want to have side effects of a PCA pump. I wasn't sure if I could tolerate morphine as a PCA (patient pump), but 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. You can read my story at the link below or find out more by searching for spinal/epidural

With general anesthesia the sleep is so heavy that it requires you to be intubated (tube in trachea) and have a respirator breathing for you during surgery. They sedate you so you don't experience the sensations when they administer the drug that paralyzes you, which is why you need the intubation. No breathing tube needed for if you don't have general because the sedation used with a regional (spinal/epidural) 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). It's also a good idea to contact your vehicle insurance company if you have general instead because some policys don't allow you to drive for 30 days after general because it can take awhile for it to get our of your system.

I was able to lay on my back and side. I could raise the bed up a little as the anesthesiologist said I could and I have heard some sisters on here were actually allowed to walk with the epidural in. My legs were to numb for that but I was very happy to be able to visit with my family and not be sick or have the brain fog. There was a catheder in the bladder left in from surgery that I didn't feel so I didn't have to worry about getting up to use the bathroom the first 24 hours. I felt absolutely great. I figured I would be happier being flat with numbness (legs are numb for a reason because it keeps you out of pain from the belly down) and feel great rather than chance the PCA pump and have brain fogginess or risk vommiting from the morophine in the I.V. I did not have any pain when the catheder came out. It's no worse than having an I.V. taken out because it's a tiny plastic catheder that is in there. Good luck in your decision.
Unread 08-16-2002, 08:07 PM
Epidural or PCA

Hello Bambi,
I had both the epidural and PCA pump. I did not like the itch of the PCA pump and avoided using it. The epidural managed my pain very well. They ended up leaving in my epidural from Tues surgery to Fri morning a little before I was dismissed. I did not have any numbness from mine but I know it is a common side effect. I could sleep on my back and did not feel the needle. As someone else mentioned my epidural was taped the entire length of the spine. Removing the epidural was easy. It felt a little like the nurse thumped me on the back. Putting in the epidural was also easy. It felt like a little tap on the back. The worst part was a sting of the medication they put in the IV. My Dr recommended the epidural to me. I recommend it to others. I woke up alert and feeling well. Best wishes in your surgery.
Unread 08-16-2002, 11:51 PM
Epidural or PCA

I just love all the feedback from all your experiences, it has made me feel more comfortable choosing an epidural for my post-op pain management.

I will, however still be under general anesthesia during my TAH/BSO surgery, as this is what my surgeon and her team are recommending (actually, I don't think she gave me an option on this one!).

Thanks again, sisters...

You've been very encouraging and inspiring.

Unread 08-21-2002, 04:50 PM
A vote for the PCA pump

Hi Bambi,
My DR advised general anesthesia, too, and I was glad to be TOTALLY OUT especially when DR needed extra hour get the entire fibroid mass out while saving ovaries, which were much impinged by the mass. I was also glad to be able to administer my own pain relief in a busy hospital with a nurse shortage. THe PCA is programmed not to give you too much, too soon, and it is a relief to know that relief is just a "touch" away.

Good luck to you, and many s

Unread 02-19-2003, 02:18 AM
Epidural or PCA

Unread 06-26-2003, 09:49 AM
Epidural or PCA


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