Epidural Blood Patch

An Epidural Blood Patch is a low-risk minimally invasive procedure used post-treatment to restore cerebrospinal fluid pressure and to seal punctures of the dura mater (the outermost layer of the meninges, the protective membrane that surrounds the spinal cord and brain) after procedures such as spinal taps and epidurals.

What conditions are treatable with an Epidural Blood Patch?

During certain medical procedures, such as a spinal tap or an epidural, it is necessary to puncture the meninges to inject nerve numbing medications. Sometimes during these procedures spinal fluid can leak.

Not only is leaking of spinal fluid a negative occurrence, but if there is a leak that means there is an opening and this could raise the risk of infection of the meninges (meningitis).

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What are expectations when a patient receives an Epidural Blood Patch?

Often during procedures that puncture the meninges spinal fluid may leak, this leakage lowers the overall pressure of spinal fluid which can lead to severe headaches. If the patient is given an Epidural Blood Patch this raises the spinal fluid pressure and the clotting agents in the blood will seal the puncture site and stop leakage.

How is the Epidural Blood Patch performed?

The Epidural Blood Patch is a very simple, minimally invasive procedure. Approximately 15-20 ml of blood is drawn from the patient and injected into the epidural space in close proximity to the offending post procedure puncture. After the injection the patient’s headache may immediately cease.

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How long does the Epidural Blood Patch last?

The Epidural Blood Patch is pretty much a permanent solution if it is successful. Occasionally the Epidural Blood Patch may not “take” and spinal fluid leakage and headache may persist. Often if it is unsuccessful it is due to strain dislodging the clot. A simple sneeze may dislodge the clot and leaking will resume.

It is very important for the patient to rest for two to three days after the procedure to allow the clot to form and for the dura mater to completely heal. A successful Epidural Blood Patch is more likely if performed AFTER 24 hours after a headache has developed.

What risk or side effects are associated with the Epidural Blood Patch?

Any time the skin is punctured there is a small risk of infection. With the Epidural Blood Patch it is possible to develop meningitis from pathogens within the blood that was injected into the spinal fluid.

If the Epidural Blood Patch is performed prior to 24 hours after onset of headache it has a higher failure rate than if performed after 24 hours has passed since the headache developed. There can be bruising, swelling, and bleeding at the injection site and it is possible to develop an infection. There is a chance pain radiating through the legs may develop but this will usually subside within a couple of days.

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How successful is an Epidural Blood Patch for the relief of pain?

The Epidural Blood Patch has shown great success in relieving headache pain associated with lowered spinal fluid pressure. The success rate is over 90%.

Bottom line on this treatment?

If you have had a procedure that punctured the meninges and developed a painful headache afterwards, then it is likely you would benefit from the Epidural Blood Patch.

If you are experiencing headaches after such a procedure in the Chicago metro area, call Premier Pain & Spine today at (847) 519-4701.

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