Epidural Blood Patch Procedures
Epidural Blood Patch
Sometimes, when patients have injections in their spinal column, the spinal fluid may leak into the epidural space. This results in severe headaches after the spinal injection. To relieve the headaches, your doctor may suggest an epidural blood patch.
In this outpatient procedure, a freshly drawn sample of your own blood is injected into the epidural space to plug the leak, so to speak. This helps relieve the headaches. In more rare cases, epidural blood patches are needed after trauma from incidences such as a car accident.
What can I expect during the procedure?
First, we numb the skin around the affected area with local anesthetic. Then we draw a sample of your blood and gradually inject it near the affected area. This triggers your body’s own healing system to repair the spinal fluid leak.
How long is the recovery time?
Immediately after the injection, you may feel pressure in your back. This will subside with rest. Patients report headaches subsiding after a few minutes to a few hours. We suggest resting the first day, but most patients can return to work the next day depending on their type of work.
What are the risks and side effects of epidural blood patches?
The most common side effect is temporary pain at the injection site. Very rare risks include: infection, bleeding, nerve damage, and accidental puncture of the spinal fluid sack, which may cause headaches and can be treated.
Who should not have this injection
You should not have this procedure if you are:
- Allergic to any of the medications to be injected
- On a blood-thinning medication (e.g. coumadin, injectable heparin)
- Currently battling an active infection