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Epidural Adhesiolysis


Epidural adhesiolysis is surgery to treat long-term back or leg pain. The epidural space is the area between your spinal cord and the bones that make up your spine. Pain may be caused by scar tissue in the epidural space pressing on nerves in your spine. Epidural adhesiolysis may be used to remove the scar tissue.


Before your surgery:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

During your surgery:

  • You may be given medicine to help you relax or make you sleepy. Your surgeon may also inject medicine to numb the skin over your spine. He or she will insert a needle between the vertebrae in your lower back. Your surgeon may need to pull out, reinsert, or change the position of the needle to find the epidural area.
  • Your surgeon will inject contrast liquid to make nerves and scar tissues easier to see on fluoroscopy (moving x-ray). He or she will insert a catheter and small tools in the epidural space. Your surgeon may use a small scope with a monitor to see where to place the catheter. He or she will slowly move the catheter to try to free the nerves from the scar tissue.
  • Your surgeon may inject a fluid to dissolve the scar tissue. He or she may also inject a mixture of anesthetic and steroid medicine through the catheter. Your surgeon will use stitches to keep the catheter from being pulled out. The catheter will be covered with a cap and antibiotic medicine. A bandage will cover the area to keep it clean and dry.

After your surgery:

You will be taken to a recovery room until you are fully awake. Healthcare providers will watch you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. When healthcare providers see that you are okay, you will be taken back to your hospital room. A healthcare provider may remove the bandages soon after your surgery to check your catheter.

  • Medicines may be given for pain or to prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
  • A neurologic exam will be used to check how your pupils react to light. Your healthcare provider may also check your memory, hand grasp, and balance.
  • You will be helped to walk around after surgery. Movement will help prevent blood clots. You may also be given exercises to do in bed. Do not get out of bed on your own until your healthcare provider says it is okay. Talk to healthcare providers before you get up the first time. They may need to help you stand up safely. If you feel weak or dizzy, sit or lie down right away.
  • Physical therapy may be used to teach you exercises that improve movement and strength, and decrease pain.


You may develop bleeding, an infection, or trouble breathing after surgery. Spinal fluid may leak from the site. During the surgery, your spinal cord, blood vessels, or nerves may be injured. Your pain may return even after this surgery. Steroids may increase your risk for infection. If you have a blood disorder or take certain medicines, you may have a higher risk for problems during or after surgery.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Epidural Adhesiolysis (Inpatient Care)

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Further information

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