An epidural catheter is a very fine plastic catheter (tube), which is placed through the skin into the epidural space within your spinal canal. This temporary catheter is left in place for a defined period of time; several days for most types of surgical pain and up to 6 weeks for certain types of chronic pain.
Why we need the epidural catheter is that the catheter allows access to the epidural space to inject medication such as local anesthetics and/or narcotics for relief of pain. Temporary epidural catheters are used for tempory treatment of painful conditions that require pain control for intensive physical therapy and/or joint mobilization.
Epidurals are placed with the patient on the side or in the sitting position.
The patient will be helped to assume the correct position. An epidural is performed using sterile technique under local anesthesia at the injection site. The epidural needle must be advanced through the skin, subcutaneous tissue, supraspinous, and interspinous ligaments. Once there, the stylet must be removed, and the Loss of Resistance syringe (filled up with saline, air, or both) must be attached to the needle.
An epidural catheter is a very fine plastic catheter (tube) that is placed through the skin into the epidural space in your spine. This temporary catheter is left in place for a defined period of time; normally less than two weeks.
The possible complications of epidural catheter techniques are: trauma, malposition and migration of the catheter, knotting and breaking, radiculopathy, dural puncture, subdural injection, abscess and infection, haematoma and wrong solution injection. Removal of an epidural catheter may be considered within the scope of practice of the Registered Nurse and only performed following the completion of didactic and clinical training.
Use aseptic technique – including mask and sterile gloves – during access and maintenance procedures. Continuous epidural infusions should be administered via an electronic infusion device. Medication infused via an epidural catheter must be preservative-free. Following removal the catheter tip should be checked to ensure it is intact. This is indicated in most products by a complete blue tip. If fragmentation is suspected, seek expert advice. The access site should be checked frequently after catheter removal for redness, pain or swelling.