FAQs on Epidural Blood Patch in Las Vegas and Henderson NV

 

The epidural blood patch consists of injecting the patient’s own blood into the epidural space near the spinal cord. Following certain procedures, the sac around the spinal cord and nerves develops a leak of cerebrospinal fluid. When this occurs, the leak is patch using the epidural blood patch procedure.

Why is the epidural blood patch required?

Several procedures involve injecting the spinal column, including a therapeutic spinal injection, an epidural during labor, and a diagnostic spinal tap. A rare complication is puncture to the dural sac, which allows cerebrospinal fluid to leak out. When a leak occurs, it causes a post-dural puncture headache (PDPH). The blood patch fixes the fluid leak, which in turn, stops the headache.

How long does the epidural blood patch procedure take to do?

The injection of blood into the epidural space only takes a few minutes. However, expect to be at the medical facility for around two hours. This time includes check-in, signing informed consent papers, talking to the doctor, positioning in the procedure room, and recovery room observation afterwards.

What medicines are used during the procedure?

The epidural blood patch procedure involves using a local anesthetic to numb the skin. Other medications used during the procedure include an antiseptic solution to clean the skin, and sometimes, a mild sedative is given to the patient.

Will the epidural blood patch hurt?

The procedure involves insertion of needles into the skin, so there is some pain involved. However, the skin over the back is numbed with a small needle and anesthetic, which feels like a slight pinching sensation. After the area is numb, the patient usually only feels pressure when the needle is inserted into the epidural space.

How do I prepare for the procedure?

If you suffer from a headache following a spinal procedure, the doctor will take a medical history and conduct a physical examination. A member of the staff will go over the risks and benefits of the procedure, and ask you to sign a consent form. You must arrange for a ride home, and be sure to not eat or drink six hours before the blood patch. Blood-thinning drugs must be held before the procedure for several days, so let the doctor know if you are taking these.

What happens during the blood patch procedure?

The nurse will position you on your stomach, and use monitoring devices to check pulse rate, oxygen levels, and blood pressure. The doctor cleanses the skin on the back using an antiseptic solution, and a small needle is used to numb the skin and deeper tissues. A nurse draws a small sample of blood from your vein, and the doctor then injects this into the epidural space, using fluoroscopy (real-time x-ray). A bandage is applied to the injection site.

What happens following the epidural blood patch procedure?

After the procedure is done, expect to feel mild pressure in the back at the site of the blood patch. You are moved to a recovery area where a nurse monitors your condition for approximately 30 minutes. Most patients report immediate relief of headache pain, as the body replenishes the lost spinal fluid. You should not lift heavy objects or do physical activity for a couple of days, and we recommend you lie flat in bed for the remainder of the day.

What complications and risks occur with the epidural blood patch procedure?

The epidural blood patch is a safe, effective procedure with few risks. However, risks can occur, including infection, pain at the site of injection, no relief of headache, nerve damage, and bleeding.

How effective is the epidural blood patch?

Based on many clinical studies, the epidural blood patch has a 70-90% efficacy rate. The majority of patients have good results, but a few require an additional patch procedure to seal the leak.

 

Resources

Banks S, Paech M, Gurrin LAn audit of epidural blood patch after accidental dural puncture with a Tuohy needle in obstetric patients. International Journal of Obstetric Anaesthesia 2001, 10:172-176. 

Safa-Tisseront V, Thormann F, Malassine P, Henry M, Riou B, Coriat P, Seebacher J:Effectiveness of epidural blood patch in the management of post-dural puncture headache. Anaesthesiology 2001, 95:334-339.

Vercauteren MP, Hoffmann V, Mertens E, Sermeus L, Adriaensen H: Seven year review of requests for epidural blood patches for headache after dural puncture: referral patterns and effectiveness of blood patches. Eur J Anaesthesiol 199916:298-303. 

Williams E, Beaulieu P, Fawcett W, Jenkins JEfficacy of epidural blood patch in the obstetric population. Journal of Obstetric Anaesthesia 1999, 8:105-109.