Topic: Tests & Procedures
This handout was written to answer some of the questions most often asked about epidural catheters. Please feel free to ask your doctor or nurse if you have any questions.
WHAT IS IT?
An epidural catheter is used to give pain medicine. A catheter (a small tube) is placed in the back between two bones in the spine. It goes in a space between the bone and the covering of the spinal cord called the epidural space. This small tube is left in, taped securely and pain medicine is given through it.
DOES IT HURT WHEN IT IS PUT IN OR AFTERWARDS?
No. The catheter is usually put in after your child is asleep (exceptions will be discussed with you and your child). Most likely he or she will not be aware of the catheter after surgery, but might have some mild itching from the tape on their back. There is very little discomfort when the catheter is removed (discomfort is from the tape removal only).
HOW LONG IS THE CATHETER LEFT IN?
The catheter may be used only during surgery; or more commonly, it may be left in for a few days. If it is left in, the medicine can be given at intervals by the doctor or given continuously in small amounts by a special machine.
WHAT WILL THE HOSPITAL STAFF BE WATCHING, LOOKING FOR AND CHECKING?
1. The nurses will check the catheter often to be sure it is still taped securely and has not become kinked or disconnected.
2. As long as the epidural catheter is in use, your child’s comfort and safety will watched closely.
3. The nurses will be checking your child’s pain relief to make sure that it is adequate.
4. Your child will have a catheter in his or her bladder to drain urine as he or she may not be able to tell when the bladder is full.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS?
As with any medications, there can be some side effects. The most common ones are nausea and itching. If either of these are present, you or your child can ask the nurse for some medicine to help. (The medicine is already ordered, all you have to do is ask). The medications may cause motor block or muscle weakness. This is an occasional side effect of local anesthesia drugs. Rarely, blood pressure and breathing may be affected. The patient is closely watched to detect these rarer side effects.
WILL MY CHILD BE ABLE TO MOVE WHILE THE EPIDURAL CATHETER IS IN USE?
Yes. The medicine will decrease the pain but he or she will still be able to move. Depending on what place along the spine the catheter is located and the type of medicine used, your child may even be allowed to walk. The anesthesiologist will determine the activity allowed.
IS THERE A CHANCE FOR ANY PROBLEMS?
As with any invasive procedure, there can be technical problems related to placing the epidural needle or catheter. These include bleeding, infection or nerve injury. You should discuss the risks and benefits of the epidural with your anesthesiologist before surgery in order to make the right decision for you.
Derechos de autor(c) de The Children's Medical Center, ano 1999. Este material unicamente tiene fines educativos. No puede ser reproducido, distribuido ni modificado sin previa autorizacion de The Children's Medical Center of Dayton, One Children's Plaza, Dayton, Ohio, 45404-1815. Llame al 937-641-3666 para solicitar autorizacion o para obtener un juego maestro para copias. Para obtener mas informacion puede visitar www.childrensdayton.org (consulte la seccion de informacion legal).
La informacion contenida en este material es unicamente informacion de tipo general. No debe considerarse como completa. Para obtener mas informacion acerca de los complementos para leche materna, por favor pidala a su doctor.
Corregido: 2002, 2004
The information contained in this handout is for general information only and should not be considered complete. For specific information about bathing your baby, please ask your doctor or nurse practitioner.
Additional information may be located in the Family Resource Center, 2nd floor, near the Outpatient Surgery Center. Hours of the center vary; please contact the Family Resource Center at 937-641-3700.
Copyright(c) The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. This material is for educational purposes only. It cannot be reproduced or distributed without permission from Dayton Children's.
Revised: 2002, 2004
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