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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.


The week before your surgery:

  • Your surgeon will tell you how to prepare. Arrange to have someone drive you home from the hospital.
  • Tell your surgeon about all medicines you currently take. He or she will tell you if you need to stop any medicine for surgery, and when to stop. He or she will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of surgery.
  • Tell your surgeon about all your allergies, including medicines or anesthesia. You may be given contrast liquid to help the epidural space show up better in pictures. Tell your healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.
  • If you are a woman, tell your surgeon if you know or think you may be pregnant.
  • You may need blood or urine tests, an EKG, x-rays, or other tests.

The night before your surgery:

You may be told not to eat or drink anything after midnight.

The day of your surgery:

  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives healthcare providers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
  • Take only the medicines your surgeon told you to take.
  • Healthcare providers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell healthcare providers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.


What will happen:

  • 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 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.


  • You have a fever.
  • Your skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
  • You have questions or concerns about your surgery.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • Your legs, feet, or other parts below the waist feel numb, tingly, or weak.


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.

Care Agreement

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 (Precare)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.