What is it?
A continuous epidural infusion is the placement of a temporary catheter into your spine used as a short screening trial for the intrathecal pump (“spinal pain pump”). This allows patients to use a much lower dose of medication to control their pain, therefore reducing side effects. Using x-ray guidance, a needle is guided into the spinal canal to insert the catheter tubing. Once the tubing is in place, a local anesthetic is injected to confirm adequate placement. The catheter is then connected to an external pump, which delivers the pain medication directly to the spinal column. You will remain in the hospital while the spinal catheter is in place, which can be from 1-2 days.
What are the expected results?
Once the catheter is in place and the medication has been adjusted for adequate pain control you should feel a reduction in the pain.
How long will it take?
The procedure itself only takes 30-60 minutes, but you may be observed for 30-60 minutes after the procedure.
After the procedure
Most often you will remain in the hospital for observation while the catheter is in place. You will need someone to drive you home once the catheter is removed and you are discharged. Written instructions will be sent home with you after discharge.
What to expect the day of your procedure
You are expected to arrive at the hospital at least one hour before your procedure is scheduled. Bring a responsible adult driver with you because you may be receiving medications that could impair your ability to drive. Unless you are certain you will not be receiving sedation, do not eat anything for 6 hours prior to your procedure; you may have modest amounts of clear liquids (liquids you can see through) up to 4 hours beforehand. Please take your regularly scheduled blood pressure and heart medications with a sip of water as you normally would. If you have diabetes, take half of your normal dosage and bring your insulin with you.
After you arrive, you will be asked to sign-in and complete any paperwork as needed. You will then be taken to the preoperative area. At this time, a nurse will ask you some medical questions and have you sign your consent forms. It is imperative that you, the patient, inform the assistant of any changes in your history and/or physical, such as recent flu or any health problems that might affect your procedure. Inform the staff of any allergies, especially to Betadine or Iodine.
You will be asked to change into a gown. An assistant will take your blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and oxygen saturation. An IV may be ordered by your physician in order to provide pain relief and relaxation.
The anesthesiologist, physician, or nurse will talk to you before your procedure. You will then be positioned and the injection site will be cleaned. The pain management physician will perform the procedure. You may be administered medication before and/or during your procedure to help you relax and provide pain relief. You may doze off during this time. Afterward, the cleaning solution will be washed off and bandages will be applied as needed. You will be transported to the recovery room area where you will be monitored anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. You will be offered beverages and some crackers. After this, you will be taken to your hospital room. After the trial is complete, the catheter will be removed and a bandage applied. Lastly, your caregiver will be given discharge instructions for your care at home.