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Epidural Blood Patch
An epidural blood patch uses a small amount of blood to create a seal. It's done after a lumbar puncture (LP) to restore normal pressure in the spinal fluid.
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Reasons for Procedure
This procedure is done to relieve a spinal headache that doesn't go away on its own. A spinal headache can happen after an LP. Too much spinal fluid leaks inside and lowers the pressure in the spine.
This procedure is quite common and relief is often immediate.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review possible problems such as:
- Reaction to the anesthesia, sedative, or contrast material
Your chances of problems are higher for:
- Taking blood thinners prior to the procedure
- Having an infection
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
You will have a physical exam and certain tests. These depend on what problems you're having.
Leading up to your procedure:
- Arrange for a ride home.
- You may be asked to stop food and drink for 2 to 6 hours beforehand.
- Talk to your doctor about all the medicines you take. You may need to stop take certain medicines up to 1 week in advance.
Local anesthesia is used. You may be given a sedative to help you relax.
Description of the Procedure
Two IVs will be inserted in your arms for medicines, fluids, and to draw blood.
You will lie face down on the table. Your back will be washed and sanitized. An x-ray may be used to help guide a small needle to the area where spinal fluid is leaking. Contrast material will be injected and more x-rays will be taken. A small amount of blood will be drawn and injected into the correct area of the spine. This should clot, or seal, the leakage.
How Long Will It Take?
About 30 minutes
How Much Will It Hurt?
You will remain awake and be asked to lie still during the procedure. Local anesthesia will block pain. You may feel slight pressure during the procedure.
Average Hospital Stay
After resting, you may be able to go home.
At the Hospital
Once the LP is done, you will be asked to lie flat and still. The healthcare staff will watch your vital signs. After a short time, you will be asked to get up and move around.
The healthcare staff will tell you how to care for the puncture site to prevent infection.
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if any of these occur:
- Continued pain after 24 hours
- Fever or chills
- Limb weakness, numbness, or unusual sensations
- Trouble emptying bladder or bowels
- Stiff neck
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Family Doctor—American Family Physician
Canadian Anesthesiologists’ Society
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada
Anesthesia epidural blood patch. UW Health website. Available at: https://www.uwhealth.org/healthfacts/diagnostic-tests/7017.html. Updated September 2016. Accessed August 23, 2018.
Epidural blood patch. University of Rochester Medical Center website. Available at: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/imaging/patients/procedures/epidural-patch.aspx. Accessed August 23, 2018.
Krovvidi H, Hasan M. Epidural blood patch. CPD Anaesthesia. 2003;5(2):94-97.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
- Review Date: 05/2018
- Update Date: 08/23/2018