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Epidural Blood Patch

An epidural blood patch is the injection of some of your blood into the epidural space.  The blood forms a patch over a tear in the dura (covering of the spinal cord).

Why is an epidural blood patch done?

An epidural blood patch is needed when there is a tear in the lining around your spinal cord allowing spinal fluid to leak.  This leak causes a" spinal headache". This type of headache may occur after a procedure such as a myelogram, epidural or spinal anesthesia, or back surgery. Taking blood from your arm and injecting it in the epidural space at the level of the leak creates a patch, which will stop the leak of spinal fluid and your headache will get better. 

How do I prepare for the procedure?

You will need someone with you to drive you home.  We would like you to have only clear liquids (black coffee, tea, broth, Jell-O and apple juice, 7-Up) from midnight the night before the blood patch until 2 hours before your appointment and then nothing to eat or drink the last 2 hours. If you are diabetic or on a blood thinner such as Plavix, Coumadin. Lovenox, please contact us at 570-271-6621.

What happens during the procedure?

  • You may have an intravenous (IV) started.
  • You will sit or lie on your side with your knees pulled up to your chest and you head tucked down.
  • The area of the blood patch will be cleaned with antiseptic solution.
  • This area will be numbed with local anesthetic.
  • The doctor will place the needle in the epidural space.
  • A nurse will draw blood from your arm.
  • The blood from your arm is then injected through the needle into your epidural space.  The blood will clot and "patch" the tear.

How long does the procedure take?

The procedure takes about 10 to 15 minutes.

What complications might occur?

  • Fever
  • Infection at injection site
  • Bleeding
  • Dural tear

What happens after the procedure?

You will rest lying flat for 30 minutes to 1 hour and then your head will be raised slowly to a sitting position. While recovering your blood pressure and pulse will be monitored.  You may notice almost instant relief of your headache or it may take 1 to 2 days to completely go away. The nurse will review discharge instructions with you and you will receive a copy of them when you check out.

Discharge Instruction

  • We will ask you not to do any strenuous activity or lift any heavy objects for the next 24 hours.
  • We would like you not to drive until the next day.
  • You may take your normal medications.
  • You may eat your normal diet.
  • We will call you the next day to see how you are feeling and if the headache is gone.
  • If you should develop any problems in the meantime please call Pain Medicine at 570-271-6621 during business hours or 570-271-6211 and ask for the Chronic Pain physician on call after hours.