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Epidural anaesthetic

An epidural anaesthetic will stop you from feeling pain, without putting you to sleep. Visit our website for more info.

What is an epidural anaesthetic?

An epidural anaesthetic (or epidural) involves injecting local anaesthetics and other painkillers into the epidural space (an area near your spinal cord). This numbs your nerves to give pain relief in certain areas of your body. An epidural can be used either on its own while you are awake, or together with sedation or a general anaesthetic. An epidural can also be used after an operation or procedure to give effective pain relief.

How does an epidural work?

To insert the epidural catheter, your anaesthetist will ask you to either sit up or lie on your side. Your anaesthetist will insert the epidural catheter using a needle. Your anaesthetist will inject a small amount of anaesthetic through the catheter to check the position. Once they have completed this check, they will give more of the anaesthetic until the epidural is working properly. The effect of the epidural can be varied by changing the type and amount of medication given. The more anaesthetic you are given, the more numb you will be.

How is an epidural given?

Most upper wisdom teeth can be removed easily under a local anaesthetic. Lower wisdom teeth can be more difficult to remove.

The procedure usually takes 10 minutes to an hour, depending on how many wisdom teeth need to be removed and how difficult they are to remove.

Removing a wisdom tooth can involve cutting the gum to uncover your tooth, removing bone around your tooth and dividing your tooth with a drill.

What complications can happen?

Bear in mind that there is a risk of significant permanent harm from an epidural. There are few complications that can arise, such as:

  • Failure of the epidural
  • Low blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Respiratory depression, where your breathing slows down too much
  • Itching
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Temporary leg weakness
  • Backache
  • Seizures
  • Unexpected high block, if the local anaesthetic spreads beyond the intended area
  • Infection around your spine
  • Cardiovascular collapse (where your heart stops)
  • Nerve damage
  • Blood clot around your spine
  • Damage to nerves supplying your bladder and bowel
  • Paralysis or death

Late complications

However, a complication may happen after the epidural has been removed.

  • Pus, redness, tenderness or pain
  • A high temperature
  • Feeling unwell
  • Discomfort when in a bright room or sunlight
  • Neck stiffness
  • Difficulty moving or feeling your legs
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Bowel incontinence

How soon will I recover?

An epidural can affect your reactions. It is very important that you cannot drive, operate machinery or do any potentially dangerous activities (this includes cooking) until you have fully recovered feeling, movement and co-ordination.


An epidural anaesthetic can be used for most people, usually giving a safe and effective form of pain relief both during and after an operation or procedure. To find out more, call us on 0808 101 0337 or make an online enquiry


Author: Mr Andrew Sidebottom FDSRCS FRCS
Illustrator: Medical Illustration Copyright © Nucleus Medical Art. All rights reserved.

Epidural (local anaesthetic) (spine injection)

Patient pathway Initial consultation Diagnostic Investigations Main treatment Post discharge care Total
Hospital fees N/A Included £1,343 Included £1,343
Consultants fees £200 N/A Included Included £200
Total £1,543

Epidural spine injection for pain (local anaesthetic)

Patient pathway Initial consultation Diagnostic Investigations Main treatment Post discharge care Total
Hospital fees N/A Included £985 Included £985
Consultants fees £200 N/A Included Included £200
Total £1,185

Specialists Offering Epidural anaesthetic

Dr Yasser Mehrez

Consultant In Pain Medicine, Anaesthesia and Intensive Care

MBChB, FRCA, MSc Anaesthesia, FFPMRCA

BMI The Saxon Clinic

View profile Book online

Dr Patrick McGowan

Consultant Anaesthetist & Pain Specialist


BMI The Kings Oak Hospital 2 more BMI The Cavell Hospital BMI Hendon Hospital

View profile Book online

Dr Shankar Ramaswamy

Consultant in Anaesthesia and Pain Management


BMI The Sloane Hospital 1 more BMI The London Independent Hospital

View profile Book online

Dr Arun Natarajan

Consultant Anaestehtics & Pain Medicine

M.B.,B.S, M.D (Anaesthetics), DNB (Anaesthetics), FRCA, FFPMRCA

BMI Bishops Wood Hospital 1 more BMI The Clementine Churchill Hospital

View profile Book online

Mr Tim Crook

Consultant Hand and Upper Limb Surgeon

BM PgDip (SEM), MFSEM, FRCS (Tr and Orth)

BMI The Winterbourne Hospital 1 more BMI The Harbour Hospital

View profile Book online

Dr Ayman Eissa

Consultant in Pain Medicine


BMI Thornbury Hospital

View profile Book online

View all

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