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Epidural Blood Patch

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

An epidural blood patch is a procedure used to relieve a headache caused by spinal fluid leak after a dural puncture. Your healthcare provider will inject a sample of your own blood into your back, near the dural puncture site. The blood will clot, which may patch the leak. An epidural blood patch may also help reduce other spinal fluid leak symptoms. Examples include nausea, vomiting, hearing or vision trouble, or a stiff neck.

HOW TO PREPARE:

Before the procedure:

  • Your healthcare provider will tell you how to prepare. Arrange to have someone drive you home after your procedure.
  • Tell your provider if you have a history of bleeding problems or a recent or current infection. Tell him or her if you have a history of headaches and what causes them.
  • Tell your provider about all medicines you currently take. He or she will tell you if you need to stop any medicine for the procedure, and when to stop. He or she will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of the procedure.
  • Tell your provider about all your allergies, including medicines or anesthesia.
  • You may need to have a lumbar puncture to test the level of your spinal fluid. You may need blood tests to check how well your blood clots. You may also need a CT scan or MRI. Contrast liquid may be used to help the images show up better. Tell your provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.
  • Your provider may tell you to rest in bed. He or she may also ask you to lie flat on your back if this is comfortable for you.
  • You may be given medicine to decrease pain and nausea.
  • Ask your provider how much liquid you should drink before this procedure, and which liquids are best for you.

The night before the procedure:

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

The day of the procedure:

  • 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 healthcare provider told you to take.
  • An IV will be placed in a vein. You may be given medicines or liquid through the IV.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN:

What will happen:

Your healthcare provider will ask you to sit down, lie on your side, or lie on your stomach. He or she will draw blood from a vein in your arm. The blood will slowly be injected into the area of your spine near the puncture site. Tell your healthcare provider if you feel back or neck pain, or pain that spreads down your legs. Also tell your healthcare provider if your headache gets worse or you feel pressure.

After the procedure:

  • You will need to lie still and flat on your back for about 2 hours after your procedure. If this is a second procedure, you may need to lie flat for up to 24 hours. Do not get up to walk until healthcare providers tell you it is okay.
  • Your headache may improve immediately or within a few days. You may have mild back, neck, or leg pain, or a fever for 1 to 2 days after your procedure. Your healthcare provider may recommend NSAIDs for pain or fever.

CONTACT YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IF:

  • You have questions about your symptoms or procedure, or your headache goes away.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have a raised, fluid-filled bump or a rash on your lower back.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • You have new or worse nausea or vomiting.
  • You feel confused, more tired than usual, or you have new problems with your movement or walking.
  • You have new or worsening ringing in your ears, hearing trouble, or are more sensitive to sound.
  • You have a burning or tingling feeling on your scalp, or arm or leg pain.
  • You cannot control when you urinate or have a bowel movement.
  • You have a seizure.
  • You have watery fluid draining from your nose or down your throat.
  • Your headache gets worse, or you feel pain in one area of your head instead of all over your head. The pain may also move to another area of your head.

Risks

Rarely, you may be at risk for an infection in the injection site. You may need a second blood patch procedure if a large amount of spinal fluid has leaked. You may need surgery to repair your dural damage.

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.

Further information

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