Learning About Spinal, Epidural, and Caudal Anesthesia in Children

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What are spinal, epidural, and caudal anesthesia in children?

Spinal and epidural anesthesia are ways to block pain from an entire region of the body. A caudal block is a type of epidural. It may be used to numb an area in the lower part of the body.

A doctor or nurse with special training will give your child numbing medicine. It's given near the spine and the nerves around it.

Your child may get this medicine for a procedure on the lower part of their body. For example, it may be used for hernia surgeries. It can also be used to help control pain after a procedure.

How are spinal, epidural, and caudal anesthesia in children done?

For spinal anesthesia, your child will get a shot of numbing medicine near their spinal cord. For epidural, they may get a single shot. Or a thin tube (catheter) may be inserted through the needle into the space next to the spinal cord. The tube stays in your child's back to supply the numbing medicine. Sometimes spinal and epidural are combined. For caudal anesthesia, the medicine is given in a shot very low in the back, at the tailbone. Sometimes a catheter is also used.

Your child will be given medicine to make them sleepy. They will usually be asleep before the anesthesia is placed near the spine.

How do you prepare?

You'll get instructions to help you prepare. They'll tell you what to expect at the hospital. They'll also tell you when your child should stop eating, drinking, or breastfeeding. And they'll tell you when to stop any medicines. If your child feels nervous, ask your doctor about ways to help them relax.

What should you tell the anesthesia specialist before the procedure?

Tell the specialist about any health problems your child has. Tell them about your child's past surgeries. Also let them know if a family member had problems with anesthesia. Give them a list of any medicines, vitamins, and herbal products your child takes.

What are the risks?

Serious problems aren't common. There may be some side effects, such as a headache, nausea, or soreness at the injection site. Your child's heart or breathing can be affected by the medicine. In rare cases, nerve damage can cause long-term weakness or numbness.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.