FAQ’s on Epidural Blood Patch

What is an Epidural Blood Patch?

When a patient is the recipient of an epidural space injection of the spine (such as during a spinal injection, an epidural during labor, or a myelogram), the size of the needle will tear the dural tissue. When this occurs, patients will experience leaking of thespinal fluid into the epidural space which will result in a very severe and painful headache. Many patients find these headaches debilitating. It is crucial to immediately report the presence of a headache following a lumbar procedure.

Epidural blood patches seeks stop spinal fluid leakage by injecting a sample of the patient’s blood into the leak. Leaking spinal fluid reduces the pressure of the spinal fluid in the epidural space.. This low pressure produces headaches that can be very painful. The injected blood will form a patch to stop leakage and provides relief from headaches.

When is an Epidural Blood Patch used?

Epidural blood patches are primarily used to treat spinal fluid leakageand resulting symptomatic headaches occurring after a lumbar injection. Treatment is performed by injecting a blood sample into the tear, where the blood forms into patch for the leak. his normalizes the pressure in the spinal fluid and the headaches will fade. Epidural blood patches are performed after other methods have not brought any relief.

What is involved in an Epidural Blood Patch?

Epidural blood patch procedure doesn’t take longer than 30 minutes, with many patients spending no more than two hours for the entirety of the procedure to be performed. You would be positioned face down on a table to provide the physician access to their lumbar spine. Patients will be given 2 IV lines, one each for the injection of medication and fluids and for the withdrawal of blood in preparation for the patch.

Once properly positioned, the site of injection will be anesthetized using local anesthetic. A needle will becarefully inserted very close to the site of the tear with a small injection of contrast (dye) to ensure the needle is placed correctly. The position of the needle is monitored through X-ray. Once positioned, a blood sample is taken from the patients arm and immediately transferred to the injection where it will be injected into the dural tear. Patients areencouraged to inform their physician if they experience any discomfort at his time.

Following injection, patients will be taken to a recovery room where they will be monitored. Patients will be instructed to lie flat at first for stabilization, and gradually be allowed to sit and move. Patients will need someone to drive them home, as they will instructed to refrain from physical activity for at least 24 hours.

What is the effectiveness of an epidural blood patch?

Epidural blood patches have been shown to be a very effective treatment in clinical trials. They are an important means of treating spinal headaches due to dural fluid leaks to provide relief to patients.

What are the risks associated?

Very minor risks present with this procedure. Patients face the small risk of infection, bleeding, or soreness at theinjection site. An infection is indicated by a fever of more than 1000F, , redness or swelling around the injection site. The biggest risk is that of the blood patch not being able to stop the leakage successfully.