- Who is this for?
- Signs and Symptoms
- Additional Information
Who is this leaflet for?
This is for anyone who has had an epidural as an inpatient.
Serious complications from epidural analgesia are rare (1 in 10,000). The epidural space is close to the spinal cord, a collection of pus or a blood clot can cause pressure on the spinal cord. In the unlikely event that there is pressure, it is crucial to diagnose and treat it as quickly as possible as any delay could cause long lasting damage. This leaflet tells you what to look for and what action to take if you think that you have a problem.
Assessment before the removal of epidural catheter
At the end of treatment with your epidural infusion, the team of doctors and nurses caring for you will examine you. This is to ensure that you do not have any residual numbness or weakness of your legs from the action of the drugs in your epidural infusion. They will ask to you move your legs and examine you, to make sure that the sensation in your legs is as it was before the operation. It is important to remember that some operations can cause altered sensation in the legs. Therefore, any changes experienced may be as a result of the surgery and not the epidural.
If you do have altered sensation when the epidural is removed, the attending team can discuss this with you.
If you experience any of the signs and symptoms listed below after your epidural infusion has been stopped while still an inpatient, Inform your nurse who is caring for you, immediately, who will contact the inpatient pain service or the on call anaesthetist.
If you have had any of the signs and symptoms listed below following discharge, it is important that you contact your GP immediately or attend your local emergency department.
Signs and symptoms
- Redness, pus, tenderness, or pain at the epidural site.
- Feeling generally unwell despite the fact that all seems to be well with the surgical wound.
- High temperature.
- Neck stiffness.
- Numbness and or weakness in your legs / inability to bear weight.
- Difficulty passing water / incontinence of faeces.
The information in this leaflet is not intended to replace the advice given to you by your doctor or the pain service looking after you. If you require more information or have any questions, please speak to your doctor or the inpatient pain service or palliative care services who are looking after you. Your ward nurse will be able to put you in touch with them.
Royal College of Anaesthetists website, information for patients and relatives.
We are smoke-free
Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.
Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998. www.cuh.nhs.uk/contact-us/accessible-information/
Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge
Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151