Spinal and epidural placement for childbirth

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Needle inserted near spinal cord in seated person's back, with details of spinal injection site and epidural catheter placement.

An epidural usually involves putting a sterile guide needle and a small tube (epidural catheter) into the space around the spinal cord. (This is called the epidural space.) The catheter is placed at or below the waist.

The needle is inserted and removed, while the catheter stays in place. The catheter is taped in place up the center of your back and at the top of your shoulder.

Medicine is injected into the catheter to numb your belly and lower body. This will help relieve pain during labor and birth.

The medicine for a spinal is injected in a single dose into the fluid around the spinal cord. The benefit of a spinal is that it works quickly.

Current as of: June 24, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
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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.