What is spinal anesthesia?

Spinal anesthesia is a type of regional anesthesia in which an anesthetic is injected into the spinal canal. Many people are familiar with the concept of an epidural, a type of spinal anesthesia that numbs the pelvic area for childbirth, and the medical procedures that must be performed in that region. There are also many other applications for spinal anesthesia, which is always administered by a trained anesthesiologist. If you are considered a candidate for spinal anesthesia, the anesthesiologist will meet with you to discuss the procedure and discuss how it will feel.

Like other anesthesia techniques, spinal anesthesia is intended to minimize the sensation of pain for a patient. In addition to making the surgical experience less traumatic, anesthesia also appears to promote healing, as pain interferes with rapid healing of injuries. Several different anesthesia medications are available, along with a variety of techniques to maximize effectiveness. Spinal anesthesia is a common technique for procedures involving the lower body.

The main reason for choosing spinal anesthesia is that it helps avoid the complications associated with general anesthesia. The patient is also usually under conscious sedation during the procedure, to ensure that he or she is at the highest level of comfort. Typically, the patient will not remember many of the details of the procedure. However, keeping the patient awake for the procedure can help doctors, as the patient can communicate about the sensations he is experiencing.

To administer spinal anesthesia, the anesthesiologist first numbs an area with a local anesthetic. Once the local anesthetic is active, another needle is inserted into the spine to deliver a longer-acting regional anesthetic. Spinal anesthesia is most often used to numb the lower half of the body, although it can also be used as a regional anesthesia for some procedures in the torso region. When the procedure is finished, the patient is given a period of rest and recuperation while regaining strength.

No surgical procedure is completely risk-free. There is a small risk of complications associated with spinal anesthesia, including possible paralysis. For this reason, it is extremely important to be open with the anesthesiologist during your preoperative interview, to identify any potential sources of complications during the procedure. The anesthesiologist may determine that you are not a good candidate after the interview and will propose some alternatives to spinal anesthesia that may be safer.

Go up