An epidural anesthetic is an injection of anesthetic medications given around the area of the spinal canal where all the nerve roots can be found. The patient is usually mildly sedated and placed in a sitting position. The area of interest is numbed with local anesthesia. A larger specially designed needle is introduced very carefully and slowly into an area considered the epidural space. It is usually recognized as positive pressure using a glass syringe attached to the needle is applied every time the needle is advanced. When the needle enters the epidural space the syringe will inject easily. This is the epidural space. A small catheter is then introduced through the needle and it is slowly advanced. It is important the needle does not advance beyond the epidural space because that is the spinal canal where all the spinal fluid is located. This could result in leakage of fluid and then a bothersome spinal headache.
Once the catheter or needle is in place medications are administered slowly that will provide anesthesia or pain control. Often the small catheter is left in place and medications are administered by slow drip postoperatively to keep pain under control. Your AP will follow you postoperatively until the epidural catheter is removed.