Q. What are the effects of spinal anesthesia done in cesarean section?

Answered by
Dr. Divakara. P
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Sep 08, 2022

Hi doctor,

While in labor with my first child in the past, 15 years back, I requested an epidural. Unfortunately, the epidural caused a total spinal block. Within seconds of the anesthesia being injected, I felt my arms numb. The next thing I remember is being laid down and rushed into the theatre. I blocked out at this point. I was briefly woken to be told they would perform a Cesarean section. I spent the night, and the effects of all the drugs wore off. I am now pregnant with my second child and have been offered an elective section with a spinal instead of an epidural so I can remain awake. My consultant was not very clear at explaining how the spinal works, and due to previous experience, I am worried it will also go wrong. No one could tell me why the epidural did what it did, so how is a spinal deemed safe in my situation? Is it likely to also cause a total spinal block? Are there any other risks with a spinal that I am unaware of?



Welcome to

I understand your concern.

It is a bit complicated, but I will try to make it as simple as possible. Epidural anesthesia injects a local anesthetic drug into your epidural space. Epidural space is outside the spinal cord, whereas spinal anesthesia is a procedure where a local anesthetic drug is injected into your spinal cord. Now coming to why you had numb arms when you had an epidural, the drug they inject in the epidural is of low density, so it can travel up from the site of injection so it can anesthetize your trunk and your upper limbs if given in excess dosage. But the drug used in the spinal is of high density, and the chances of it going upward are less. Hence the chances of anesthetizing your trunk and upper limbs are very low.

I hope you find it helpful.

Kind regards.

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