For many operations, patients receive a general anaesthetic and remain anaesthetised during the operation. A spinal anaesthetic (‘a spinal’) may be used instead for some operations like Caesarean Section. Depending on the type of operation and your own medical condition, a spinal anaesthetic may sometimes be safer for you and suit you better than a general anaesthetic.
You can normally choose:
A local anaesthetic drug is injected through a needle into the small of your back to numb the nerves from the waist down to the toes for two to three hours.
Advantages of having a c- section delivery with Spinal Anaesthetic are:
With a spinal, you can communicate with the anaesthetist and surgeon before, during and after surgery. If an operating camera is being used, you may even be able to watch the operation on television if you wish! Alternatively, you may decide that you wish to have sedation while the operation is in progress.
As with all anaesthetic techniques there is a possibility of unwanted side effects or complications.
These may be unpleasant, but are easily treated and do not last long.
Headache – When the spinal wears off and you begin to move around there is a risk of developing a headache. This risk is practically negligible with the new needles which are finer than hair.
Low blood pressure – As the spinal takes effect, it can lower your blood pressure and make you feel faint or sick. This can be controlled with the fluids given by the drip and by giving you drugs to raise your blood pressure.
Itching – This can occur as a side effect of using morphine-like drugs in combination with local anaesthetic drugs in spinal anaesthesia. If you experience itching it can be treated, as long as you tell the staff when it occurs.
Difficulty passing water (urinary retention) – You may find it difficult to empty your bladder normally for as long as the spinal lasts. Your bladder function returns to normal after the spinal wears off. You may require a catheter to be placed in your bladder temporarily, either while the spinal wears off or as part of the surgical procedure.
Pain during the injection – As previously mentioned, you should immediately tell your anaesthetist if you feel any pain or pins and needles in your legs or bottom as this may indicate irritation or damage to a nerve and the needle will need to be repositioned.
After your spinal– Your nurses will make sure that the numb area is protected from pressure and injury until sensation returns.
You will need to have an empty stomach before your operation and you must follow the same rules as if you were going to have a general anaesthetic. This is because it is occasionally necessary to change from a spinal anaesthetic to a general anaesthetic.
Before the operation you and your anaesthetist can decide together whether you remain fully awake during the operation or would prefer to be lightly sedated so that you are not so aware of the whole process. The amount of sedation can be adjusted so that you are aware but not anxious. It is also possible to combine a spinal with a light general anaesthetic.
Sometimes you can choose. Normally a screen is placed across your upper chest so that you see nothing when surgery starts. You will be aware of the ‘hustle and bustle’ of the operating theatre when you come in. Once surgery starts noise levels drop. You will be able to relax, with your nurse and your anaesthetist looking after you. Some patients like to wear personal stereo headphones to listen to their own choice of music during the operation. There is a stereo player available in the Operation Theatre which usually plays FM radio but you can always choose to burn a CD and bring along. The options available to you will vary, depending on a number of factors to do with your operation.
Yes. Your anaesthetist will assess your overall preferences and needs for the surgery and discuss them with you. If you have anxieties regarding the spinal then these should be answered during your discussions, as it is usually possible to accommodate individual patients’ wishes and still use a spinal anaesthetic.
Yes. If, following discussion with your anaesthetist, you are still unhappy about having a spinal anaesthetic you can always say no. You will never be forced to have any anaesthetic procedure that you don’t want.
Your anaesthetist will not permit surgery to begin until you are both convinced that the spinal is working properly. You will be tested several times to make sure of this. You should not feel any pain during the operation but you may well be aware of other sensations such as movement or pressure as the surgical team carry out their work.
Yes, your anaesthetist will want to know about any sensations or other feelings you experience during the operation. They will make adjustments to your care throughout the operation and be able to explain things to you.
No, although they both involve an injection of local anaesthetic between the bones of the spine in the small of your back, the injections work in a slightly different way and should not be confused.Tags: Pre Conception Counseling , Pregnancy management , Epidural Anesthesia , Mental health during Fertility , Spinal Anesthesia