Info on Spinal Anesthesia

What is Spinal Anesthesia?

 - Spinal anesthesia is a safe and effective technique to ensure you are comfortable during and after surgery.

- Spinal anesthesia will allow you to be pain free in a specific area.  You can expect to feel numb or "frozen" below your umbilicus (belly button).

- After the medication wears off, you will have return of feeling and movement to your legs.

- The Anesthesiologist injects a local anesthetic medication into the fluid that surrounds the spinal cord.

- Depending on your individual case, you may be lightly or heavily sedated during the procedure.

What should I expect?

- Your Anesthesiologist will first explain the procedure to you.

- Your lower back will be cleansed with a special cleaning solution, which will feel cold.

- The Anesthesiologist will ask you to be in a position that facilitates placement of the medication.  This involves leaning forward while sitting on the edge of the bed, or lying on your side with your knees bent up towards your chest.

- A special fine needle is then used to inject the medication into your back.

How quickly does it work?

- You may feel warmth in your legs or feet very quickly.  It can take up to 15 minutes for your legs to be totally frozen.

- Depending on the medication used, the freezing can last for 1 to 4 hours.

- You will often get other medication through your IV that will help you relax and sometimes fall asleep.

- As the 'freezing' wears off, you will first be able to move your toes and then your legs gradually after that.

What are the benefits of Spinal Anesthesia?

- There are many benefits of choosing a spinal anesthetic, such as being less drowsy or nauseated after surgery.

- Studies have shown spinal anesthetics can help you: recover faster, have less nausea or vomiting, provide a longer period of pain relief after surgery and help avoid complications (such as deep vein thrombosis or blood clots).

What are the side effects?

Although spinal anesthetics are common practice and very safe, there are some potential risks.

- Your blood pressure may decrease temporarily.  The Anesthesiologist will be closely monitoring this along with your heart rate and other vital signs.

- Bleeding and other complications are extremely rare.

- Be sure to tell your doctor if you are taking any blood thinners such as Warfarin, Plavix, Eliquis, Pradaxa, etc.

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