You’ve probably heard of epidural anesthesia. You may not know exactly what it means and what it is used for, but do not worry, we will explain everything you need to know about it. Epidural anesthesia is the most effective and widely used method used to reduce pain during childbirth in women. In the following we will talk about what this procedure is, what effects and side effects it has, the pros and cons of epidural anesthesia.
What is epidural anesthesia?
Let’s start by clarifying the term and what epidural anesthesia is in general. Epidural anesthesia is a medical procedure that blocks pain in the lower half of the body. This type of anesthesia is most commonly used in childbirth, with the aim of relieving the pain experienced during childbirth and in the birth process in general. But epidural anesthesia is also used in other medical and surgical interventions, and has the same purpose of blocking pain in the area that will be subjected to some medical treatment. In obstetrics, epidural anesthesia is used for both natural childbirth and caesarean section. Unlike caesarean section, which is performed under general anesthesia, epidural anesthesia allows the mother to be aware of the delivery process.
What is the procedure for epidural anesthesia?
The procedure for epidural anesthesia consists primarily of injecting a local anesthetic into the area around the spinal canal. The anesthetic works by blocking nerve pain impulses located in this area so that pain signals from this area will not reach the brain. Instead of pain, the patient feels only touch and pressure, and after the injection the patient can move with a little help. The anesthetic usually starts within 10 to 20 minutes after the injection.
Types of epidural anesthesia
Anesthesia is a medical procedure that, as mentioned above, works by blocking painful signals that are supposed to reach the brain during surgery. Anesthesia may be one in which the patient enters deep sleep, where all his senses are suspended during non-intervention, or it may be regional in that the patient is awake throughout the operation and the pain is blocked only in certain areas. on the body, ie exactly where the operation will be performed.
This type of anesthesia consists of infecting a narcotic that is combined with a local anesthetic such as chloroprocaine, lidocaine, bupivacaine. The injection is performed in the epidural space which is located in the space of the spinal canal. A small catheter is inserted into the epidural space for additional anesthetic dosing. Once the effect stops, a new dose is injected. Subsequent doses are injected either with an automatic syringe or with a syringe controlled by the patient dosing the anesthetic as needed.
In the process of injecting spinal anesthesia, the anesthetic is injected into the fluid around the spinal cord and the nerves that serve the lower body. This type of anesthesia is injected only once, so that the catheter will no longer be inserted with additional doses. This anesthesia works immediately and much faster than epidural anesthesia. The action of this type of anesthesia lasts from half an hour to 3 hours.
In both cases the patient’s blood pressure and oxygen level are constantly monitored with both anesthetics.
When and how is epidural anesthesia performed?
Epidural anesthesia is performed by an anesthesiologist. Preanesthetic examinations are performed first in which the anesthesiologist seeks information about the patient’s medical history. The patient should sit on the side, so that the knees touch the chest and the back will be bent or rounded, in a squat position in order to expose the spine as well as possible. The anesthesiologist examines the area of the spine by palpation and chooses the exact place where the needle will be inserted. The patient should be calm throughout the procedure. First, disinfect the area where the needle is to be inserted to reduce the risk of infection. The needle is then inserted, and a local anesthetic solution called xylene is injected through it so that the patient does not feel the next needle, which is significantly longer and thicker. Then the thicker game is inserted into the epidural space and a catheter is passed through it through which an anesthetic is given.
Benefits of epidural anesthesia
Epidural anesthesia is a safe and effective procedure in most cases. However, there are exceptions. Its application has a number of advantages, and it is mostly used among pregnant women. The benefits are mainly that epidural anesthesia reduces pain during childbirth, but also allows the mother to be awake and involved in childbirth. It also significantly reduces pain and discomfort, thus reducing the potential traumatic experience of the mother. In certain deliveries the mother is subjected to long and painful labor, and this anesthesia gives the mother the opportunity to rest and gather strength to continue the delivery. When it comes to cesarean delivery, when epidural anesthesia is injected, the mother is awake and present during the birth process, which is not the case when the mother will be injected with total anesthesia. Epidural anesthesia also has analgesic effects after birth as well as during recovery.
Risks and disadvantages of epidural anesthesia
Epidural anesthesia is generally a safe procedure that is rarely complicated. However, as with any medicine, there are potential side effects to this medical procedure.