Epidural Blood Patch
An epidural blood patch is a treatment for spinal headaches. In the procedure, a doctor will take a blood sample from a patient and then inject that blood back into a hole in the epidural space. The blood clots, helping to “patch” punctures after a spinal tap procedure.
A spinal headache develops in 10-40% of individuals who receive lumbar punctures to treat certain medical conditions. A patch can effectively seal the leak at the site or relieve low pressure states in the head. Spinal headaches may also be referred to as chronic post dural puncture headaches, which refers to the cause of pain.
This procedure was used for the first time in 1960. The epidural space is a sac that encases the spinal cord. This site contains cerebrospinal fluid. This fluid circulates from the spine to the brain. If a lumbar puncture causes it to leak, pressure in the brain begins to decrease. This patch restores the optimal pressure in the brain by sealing the leak.
When headaches become chronic, people usually seek medical advice. Persistent headaches may develop due to a number of conditions. Clinicians generally try to determine their primary cause with imaging tests and different clinical assessments. If a person has a history of spinal injection procedures, it could indicate that a lumbar puncture is leading to spinal headaches. You may have undergone a spinal injection for any of the following reasons:
Pain management (e.g., epidural injection)
An epidural to assist with labor
Spinal anesthesia for surgery
A myelogram (contrast dye administered to the spinal cord during imaging screening)
If an individual is suffering from persistent headaches and has undergone one or more spinal injections in the past, their cerebrospinal fluid may be leaking. This can be responsible for their pain. A 10% loss of cerebrospinal fluid is enough to cause a spinal headache.
The International Headache Society defines a post-dural puncture headache as a headache that:
Presents approximately five days after a spinal injection
Intensifies while sitting in an upright position for about ten minutes
Has additional symptoms of vomiting, neck stiffness, nausea, and hearing issues
Further, individuals who lay down for 30 minutes usually report experiencing relief after a spinal headache.
Patients most at risk for these headaches include:
Women who were given an epidural to assist with their labor
Individuals whose ages range from 31 to 50
Those who received epidural injections when large bore needles were used, up to 16-86% of individual patients
An epidural blood patch is a treatment method where a blood sample is taken from a patient and then injected into the epidural space shortly thereafter. This method is commonly used to treat patients with spinal headaches. These headaches occur from a lumbar puncture that subsequently led to a cerebrospinal fluid leak. These patches seal the site of the leak and restore the optimal pressure in the brain. In doing so, they effectively treat lumbar puncture-related conditions.
This treatment method is minimally invasive. It usually takes 30 minutes to complete. Further, it has consistently demonstrated the ability to provide patients with significant relief.