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Spinal anesthesia (spinal block) is a way to control pain using anesthetic medicine. It causes complete loss of feeling and muscle control below the waist. A spinal block is often used for an assisted delivery (such as a caesarean section or a delivery with forceps). Or it can be used when a delivery is happening fast. The benefit of a spinal block is that it works quickly.
A spinal block is similar to epidural anesthesia. But the anesthetic for a spinal block is injected in a single dose into the fluid around the spinal cord. A spinal block may also be called a saddle block. It numbs the area that would come into contact with the saddle of a horse.
Like an epidural catheter, a spinal block must be given by an anesthesia specialist.
Spinal anesthesia (spinal block) for childbirth may cause side effects. These may include lowering of the mother's blood pressure during delivery, an occasional headache after delivery, and temporary urinary problems. Infection at the injection site is a rare complication.
Current as of: October 20, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & John M. Freedman MD - Anesthesiology
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