Spinal Anesthesia Vs. Epidural Anesthesia

Category: Spine Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: November 14, 2017

Spinal Anesthesia Epidural

When a patient needs to undergo spine surgery, they are often told about the types of anesthesia options available to them. For back operations, two of the more common options are spinal anesthesia and epidural anesthesia. Today, we take a closer look at the differences between the two types, and we explain why you may opt for them over general anesthesia.

The Differences Between Spinal Anesthesia and Epidural Anesthesia

Here’s a look at the two anesthetic techniques:

  • Spinal Anesthesia – This is a type of anesthesia that is injected into the spinal canal to produce loss of sensation in the lower half of a patient’s body. The anesthesia is inserted into the fluid that surrounds the spinal cord, and the injection site is in the lumbar portion of the back. This results in a quick numbing of the lower body.
  • Epidural Anesthesia – Epidural anesthesia is administered in the spinal canal, just outside the protective layers of the spinal cord, also known as the epidural space. This method allows for better post-operative pain control. Epidural injections are also typically administered in the lumbar portion of the spine, but the consensus is that they are a little more difficult to place in the correct location compared to a spinal anesthesia block.

Both techniques are also typically paired with sedatives so that the patient is not awake during the procedure.

Why Regional Anesthesia Over General Anesthesia?

Regional spinal anesthesia may be preferred over general anesthesia for a number of different reasons:

  • Allows patients to maintain more control during the operation when paired with minimal sedation.
  • Less likelihood of post-operative nausea.
  • Some patients have health conditions that could be brought on by undergoing general anesthesia, or it negatively affects the surgical outcome.
  • Both spinal and epidural anesthesia have been proven to be as safe for patients as general anesthesia.
  • Complications are extremely rare.
  • No irritation of the throat or airway.

Instead of numbing the whole body and putting the patient to sleep, regional anesthesia in the form of a spinal or epidural block can help keep the patient from feeling anything during surgery, and they have less of an impact on your mind and other areas of your body. Dr. Sinicropi offers both these options at his clinic, and he’d be more than happy to walk you through all your anesthetic options prior to an operation. If you have questions or want to get a hold of his office, you can contact him here.

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