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Anesthesia

C-section anesthesia

05/30/2008

Question:

I had my first GA c-section 4 years ago. Now doctor plans for spinal. Please tell me which is better for me and which one has less side effects? Is there anything we can do to avoid headaches? My age is 37 years. Thanks.

Answer:

Epidural or spinal anesthesia is first choice for almost all parturients (fancy word for those giving birth). It tends to be safer for both mothers and babies. Please refer to other information on this site for the reasons.

All anesthetic techniques have potential side effects or complications. As you are aware, one of the problems with both spinal and epidural anesthesia is the possibility of headache. The headache occurs hours or days after the procedure, affects about 1 in 100 or 1 in 200 people, and can be quite severe and last several days. There isn't anything really that a person can do to reduce their risk of headache. The person performing the spinal anesthesia can improve the odds in your favor by using a really fine (narrow) needle, and not puncturing the dura (the membrane inside which is the spinal fluid that the anesthetic is injected into) more than once. It is not necessary to lie in bed for hours or days after the spinal anesthesia, as was once advised. The incidence of spinal headache decreases with age, so at least you have that in your favor! Good luck and have a nice baby!

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Response by:

Gareth S Kantor, MD Gareth S Kantor, MD
Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University