Epidural Anesthesia Definition:
Anesthetic medication given into the body through a catheter inserted in the arm or leg.
The main purpose of epidural anesthesia is to block pain signals from reaching the brain. When used properly, it reduces the risk of death during childbirth. However, there are some risks associated with using epidural anesthesia. These include:
1) Increased risk of blood clots (thrombosis).
2) Risk of stroke.
3) Risk of death due to pulmonary embolism.
4) Risk of infection.
6) Headache after epidural anesthesia is removed from the body.
7) Low blood pressure.
These risks must be carefully weighed against the benefits of using epidural anesthesia during labor.
Epidural Anesthesia Drugs:
Some of the most common drugs used for epidural anesthesia include:
1) Etorphine: Epinephrine is given along with this medicine to prevent the onset of nerve paralysis that can occur after the medicine is injected.
2) Fentanyl: This drug is also used in the treatment of cancer pain.
3) Bupivacaine: This drug is a “local anesthetic”.
It is injected into the epidural space of the body to numb pain.
4) Ropivacaine: This drug can also be used in the treatment of pain caused during labor.
5) Mepivicaine: This drug is similar to bupivacaine.
However, it typically causes less sensitivity at the injection site.
6) Methohexital: This drug is not commonly used to provide epidural anesthesia.
7) Thiopental: This drug is rarely used during labor.
It can be used to treat severe back pain.
As you can see, there are many different drugs that can be used during labor. Not every drug is right for everyone. It is very important to discuss the risks and benefits of each drug with your obstetrician before you decide whether or not to use it during labor.
What to Expect During An Epidural:
When you first arrive at the hospital, you will be asked whether or not you want to use an epidural. If you want to use one, your medical team will discuss your medical history and perform various tests to determine whether or not you are a good candidate for epidural anesthesia.
1) You will be given a local anesthetic to numb your skin.
2) A sterile draping will be placed over the skin of your back.
This will prevent the spread of bacteria from your back to other parts of your body.
3) A needle will be inserted into your back.
4) A catheter will be inserted into the needle.
5) The catheter will be pulled back through the needle.
This will create a passage through which the anesthetic can be delivered.
6) After this process is complete, the needle will be removed from your back.
7) A small patch will be placed over the catheter.
This will prevent the catheter from moving around or slipping out of place.
Your obstetrician will continue to monitor various functions of your body during the entire process. If a problem arises, the catheter can be removed and the process can be started over again.
Risks of Using an Epidural During Labor:
As with all types of medical procedures, there are some risks involved. The following are some of the most common risks associated with epidural anesthesia:
1) The catheter may move out of place and cause you pain.
2) The catheter may move from your epidural space and cause a collapsed lung.
3) The catheter may move through your spinal column and puncture your spinal cord.
This could result in paralysis.
4) There is a possibility of developing an infection at the puncture site.
5) There is a very small risk that you could develop an allergic reaction to the anesthetic.
6) In some cases, a blood clot may form at the puncture site.
7) Epidural anesthesia will not affect any pain that you may experience in your labor.
8) You may suffer from general anesthesia if the epidural should fail during the delivery of your child.
Epidurals are the most popular method of relieving pain during labor for a very good reason: they work effectively in most situations and rarely cause any serious complications. The main disadvantage is that an epidural may slow down the progress of your labor.
There are also some rare, but serious, risks that must be taken into consideration. These risks should be discussed in detail with your obstetrician and other medical team members before you decide whether or not to use an epidural.
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