An epidural blood patch is a minimally invasive procedure that uses a small amount of blood to seal a puncture in the spine. This patch is usually administered after a spinal tap procedure to help relieve spinal headaches. These headaches typically develop when too much spinal fluid leaks into the spinal column, causing increased pressure and pain. An epidural blood patch is an outpatient procedure that is performed using an IV sedative and local anesthetic, so patients are able to return home the same day. A few hours after the procedure, the blood patch will have had the chance to replenish lost spinal fluid, reducing headache pain and other symptoms.
Before the procedure, the physician injects a local anesthetic into the skin above the surgical site to reduce pain and discomfort. Once the anesthetic takes effect, the physician uses x-ray guidance to insert a hollow needle through the skin and muscles into the epidural space. As soon as the needle is in place, a small amount of blood is drawn from the patient’s vein and injected into the damaged area of the spine. This process should effectively seal the leakage occurring in the spinal column. After the blood has been injected, the needle is removed and the patient is sent to a separate room to recover from the procedure.
After the procedure, patients may experience mild pressure near the injection site. This due to the blood in the epidural space, and the feeling should subside within a few hours. Patients may be asked to stand and move around 30 minutes after the procedure to ensure no complications are present. While complications are rare, they can still arise, so it’s imperative patients report side effects such as increased pain, infection, bleeding, fever, and nerve damage to their Orthopedic and Wellness physician. A nurse will go over approved and prohibited recovery activities with the patient before he or she is discharged.