This numbing medication is injected into the cerebrospinal fluid through a fine needle placed near the nerve roots of the lower spine. It can be used to numb the abdomen, groin, legs and feet. It does not put the patient to sleep, but blocks painful sensations during or after a medical procedure.
When it is Used
Spinal anesthesia is commonly used to block the pain of abdominal surgeries, gynecological or urological surgeries, and for surgeries on the hip or knee.
Patient Care and Safety
The type and amount of anesthesia used depends on the patient’s need. An anesthesia provider will consider the patient’s health, medication use, allergies, medical history and past use of anesthesia to decide what is best for the patient.
Delivering Spinal Anesthesia
The anesthesia injection will be given in the lumbar spine, below the level at which the spinal cord tapers off and the nerve roots continue down to the lower extremities. The needle will not come into contact with the spinal cord. The anesthesia provider first numbs the skin of the insertion site. A fine needle is placed into this numbed tissue and is pushed between the vertebrae of the lower back. The needle is carefully guided through the dura (the sheath surrounding the nerve roots) and into the subarachnoid space. The anesthesia is delivered through this needle, bathing the nerve roots.
End of Procedure
When the injection is complete, the needle is removed. The anesthesia provider monitors the patient to make sure the patient is comfortable and pain free. The numbing effect may last for several hours after a surgical procedure, depending on the type and amount of anesthesia used.