Eli5: Since epidurals are so commonly used to subside pain during active labor and child birth, why are they not used during other major medical procedures?



Eli5: Since epidurals are so commonly used to subside pain during active labor and child birth, why are they not used during other major medical procedures?

In: Other

My surgeon also used an Epidural on me for my lung cancer surgery. She said it was the most effective long term pain mitigation for that type of surgery.

Similar methods are used for other minor surgeries, like my hand surgery when they used a nerve block in my armpit. I’ve also had epidurals for pain relief, since I’ve had many surgeries and permanent damage.

They do! They are known neuraxial blocks, which include spinal, epidural, and other commonly practiced regional anesthesia techniques. (I work for an anesthesiology group.) As a matter of fact, today I coded the billing for a spinal block on a patient who shoved a “foreign body” up his urethra and had to have it surgically removed.

This has a few parts so I’ll break it down. Epidurals are used in child birth because they offer anesthesia from pain but while allowing the patient to still be conscious and push out a baby. During surgery it’s generally preferable for the patient to be unconscious as well as not feeling pain, so an epidural is not recommended, general anesthesia is. For certain procedures like limb surgery or hand surgery a similar concept can be used called a nerve block, where only the nerve in that one limb is anesthetized, however the rest of the body is not. This is preferable when you want someone to be able to go home after a procedure like in ambulatory surgery or hand laceration repairs. It’s really all about what you need from the patient, while making them as comfortable as possible, the first law of medical ethics is to do no harm for a reason.

They do. It depends on the anesthesiologist. For surgeries below a certain spine level, they’ll give an epidural.

Hello. Work in the anesthesia department.

We use spinals for hip or knee surgery. Keeps the patient numb during the case and usually same day discharge vs general anesthesia. ( Longer recovery time in pacu and more drugs and anesthesia gas used.)

Epidurals are primarily used for labor analgesia.

Regional blocks are used for limbs. Examples would be shoulder or knee surgeries.Helps with post operative pain anywhere from 12-24hrs.
Sometimes we use regional blocks for broken ribs but much higher risk due to proximity of the lungs being so close to the ribs.

Some surgeons prefer both a spinal and also a regional block. All patient and surgeon specific.

They gave me an epidural when I donated bone marrow. They take the marrow out of the pelvis, so big needles through the upper butt check multiple times. I don’t remember much since they also gave me a Valium drip to “relax” me, which pretty much put me to sleep.

My husband had an epidural for a double lung transplant. Epidurals probably don’t seem as common for other purposes as they truly are because every birth mom seems to want to overshare her birth story, but not everyone overshares their fill-in-the-blank surgery story detail-by-detail the same way.

They are! For other major medical procedures epidurals and similar nerve blocks are usually combined with sedatives or other drugs to help keep the patient comfortable.

Childbirth is generally just an epidural because the mother is an active participant pushing the baby out, most sedatives are dangerous for the baby, and the mother wants to be able to see and hold the baby right away, not forget the first hour of the baby’s life in a medicated haze.

They can be. I had my appendectomy with an epidural. So I was awake though groggy.. felt weird with them digging around inside. And I’ve had foot surgery with a spinal block. That one was weird too. Was pounding on my legs and couldn’t feel a thing.

Let’s say you had to get your leg amputated, right? Do you want to be awake for that surgery even though you’re majority of your body is numb? Helllll to the no