Kentucky Anesthesia Group is a provider-owned anesthesia practice committed to delivering state-of-the-art anesthesia services. Among our services are spinal blocks. An alternative to a general anesthetic, a spinal block can be used for most operations below the waist.
Performed by an anesthetist, a spinal block is produced when a local anesthetic agent, such as lidocaine or bupivacaine, is injected into the cerebrospinal fluid in the lumbar region of the spine. This technique allows the patient to be awake, while producing extensive numbing of the abdomen, legs and feet. A spinal differs from an epidural. First, it is delivered directly into the spinal fluid. Second, it’s a one-time injection rather than a continuous infusion through a catheter. Spinal blocks are actually faster to administer and last only a couple of hours.
Spinal blocks are commonly used for hip and knee replacements, providing excellent intraoperative analgesia, stable vital signs and outstanding pain relief for many hours after surgery. There is often less blood loss when using a spinal anesthetic. A person also avoids the necessity of being under general anesthesia and intubated, having a tube placed down the windpipe to provide oxygen and anesthetic gases.
If sedation is given prior to the placement of the spinal block, the patient may have no recollection of the block being performed. However, many spinals are placed without any prior sedation. Typically, patient discomfort during spinal placement is mild and well tolerated. Many patients describe the discomfort as less than having an IV started.
You may feel some stinging when numbing medicine is first injected into the site, but the spinal block itself doesn’t hurt. As the spinal starts working, you’ll feel numbness and loss of movement in your feet, then your legs, up to your waist. As the medicine wears off, you’ll regain the ability to move. How numb you are depends on the medication used. The duration of the numbness can be manipulated to a certain degree by the selection of different medications and dosages. Because the spinal block must last longer than the surgery, you may experience numbness for 1 to 2 hours after your procedure is completed.
Kentucky Anesthesia Group tries to tailor each spinal block to minimize delays in discharge from the recovery room. If you are having an outpatient procedure, your numbness must resolve before you can be discharged to go home.
A spinal block may be ordered if a woman decides she wants pain relief in labor. It can also be ordered if labor is progressing so rapidly that delivery is likely to be relatively soon and you can’t wait for an epidural. Typically, the pain relief from a spinal block will last between 1 to 3 hours. Unlike an epidural, you can’t increase a spinal block. Spinal anesthesia is typically administered during labor when delivery is expected within 2 hours. With a spinal block, surgery can be performed with the patient wide awake.
The following are the advantages of having a spinal block by one of our Kentucky Anesthesia Group anesthesiologists:
Our anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists (CRNA) at Kentucky Anesthesia Group are committed to providing the best care throughout every procedure, putting every patient at ease before every spinal block procedure.
For more information, contact our office at (859) 268-1030.