This procedure is an injection of anesthetic into the lower back. This type of injection is used to relieve pain that does not respond to oral or IV medications.
In preparation for the procedure, the patient lies on his or her side or sits to expose the lower back. The skin is cleansed with an antiseptic solution. A local anesthetic is injected to numb the tissue around the epidural injection site.
Inserting the Needle
The physician guides a larger needle through the numbed tissue and into the epidural space. The needle is not pushed through the dura (the sac that surrounds the nerve roots). The needle is positioned just outside this sac. If a catheter is needed, it is pushed through the needle.
Injecting the Anesthesia
When the needle or catheter is in position, the physician slowly injects the anesthetic mixture. The anesthetic bathes the nerves in the area. The pain-numbing sensation typically begins working within twenty minutes. The region that is numbed depends on the location of the injection and the amount of anesthesia used.
End of Procedure
When the injection is complete, the physician removes the needle. The numbness will typically last for a few hours after the injection. If a catheter is used, it will be left in place so that more anesthetic can be injected as needed. The catheter will be removed when the patient no longer requires anesthesia.