Epidural anesthesia is regional anesthesia that blocks pain in a particular region of the body. The goal of an epidural is to provide analgesia, or pain relief, rather than anesthesia, which leads to a total lack of feeling. Epidurals block the nerve impulses from the lower spinal segments. This results in decreased sensation in the lower half of the body.
This produces pain relief with minimal effects. These medications may be used in combination with epinephrine, fentanyl, morphine, or clonidine to prolong the epidural’s effect or to stabilize the mother’s blood pressure.
Epidural needles (such as the Tuohy needle) are larger, hollow needles that enter the epidural space. The curve of the needle is designed to enable an inserted cannula to be threaded into the epidural space at an angle. Once the cannula is in place the epidural needle is removed. Anaesthesia and analgesia can be administered via the epidural cannula.