Anesthesia Epidural Blood Patch
An epidural blood patch is used to relieve a headache caused by a spinal anesthetic, lumbar puncture (spinal tap), or a myelogram. Sometimes after these treatments, spinal fluid can leak, decreasing the pressure of the spinal fluid. This low pressure can cause a headache. A low-pressure headache can cause severe pain with standing or sitting, but often gets better when lying flat. If your doctor believes you have a low-pressure headache, he or she may suggest an epidural blood patch.
An epidural blood patch places your own blood in the spinal canal close to the same site where your treatment was done. This blood forms a clot or “patch” over the area that is leaking.
What will be done during the blood patch?
- You will be brought into a prep room where you will change into a gown and have an IV started.
- The anesthesiologist will explain the treatment to you and answer any questions you have.
- Before the treatment, let the staff know if you take any medicines to thin your blood. Tell the staff the last time you had anything to eat or drink.
- You may be given drugs through your IV to help relax you.
- For the treatment, you will need to sit with your back hunched over, or lie on your side with your knees curled up toward your chest. These positions help with the placement of the epidural needle.
- Next, the anesthesiologist will clean off your back with an antiseptic solution and cover it with a sterile drape.
- After injecting some numbing medicine, a thin needle is placed into your back close to where the other treatment was done.
- A small amount of blood is drawn from your arm. It is injected right away through the epidural needle into your back. You may feel some minor pain or pressure in your back while it is being injected.
- After resting for 1 hour, you will be sent home.
What should I do at home?
- You may not drive for 24 hours.
- Take it easy the rest of the day. Avoid any heavy lifting or intense activity for 24 hours.
- Watch for signs of infection
- fever greater than 100.4° F by mouth
- increased redness or swelling around the blood patch site
- severe stiff neck
- problems thinking clearly
How to I contact the doctor?
Call the paging operator at (608) 262-0486. Ask for the doctor on call for Dr. _________________. Leave your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back. If you live out of the area, call 1-800-323-8942. We wish you a quick recovery.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 01/31/2013
Copyright © 01/31/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7017
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