This procedure is performed to help provide relief to cancer patients who may be experiencing chronic pain. This epidural procedure requires an injection to the lower back with local anesthetic. This procedure is performed when the patient has been treated with oral and IV medications and has not witnessed any type of response to those medications for pain relief.
Before the procedure begins, the patient will either lie on the side or sit up to give the lower back the proper exposure needed for the injection. As with all procedures, the site of the injection is sterilized with antiseptic solution and then a local anesthetic is applied to the area to help numb the tissue surrounding the site of the epidural injection.
A needle will be applied into the epidural space, going through the tissue that has already been numbed. Care will be placed in the insertion of the needle as to ensure that it does not penetrate the dura (a sac like structure that engulfs the nerve roots) but instead, positioned just right outside of it. In the event a catheter is required, it will be pushed through the needle.
Once the needle/catheter has been placed into position, the anesthetic mixture is slowly injected into the epidural space. The nerves in the area get drenched with the anesthetic. Within approximately twenty minutes, patients may begin to experience a numbing sensation, diminishing the pain. The level of the numbness will vary depending on the location of where the injection took place as well as how much anesthetic was used in the procedure.
Once the injection has been completed, the needle is removed. Patients can expect to feel the numbing sensation for a few hours subsequent to the injection. In the event a catheter was used in the procedure, it may be left in its place in case more anesthetic needs to be applied. Once the patient reaches a point where no further anesthesia is necessary, only then will the catheter will be removed.