Anesthesia Spinal History


Spinal anesthesia is also known by other names such as sub-arachnoid block (SAB) or spinal analgesia. It is a local anesthetic procedure which involves injecting the sub-arachnoid region with local anesthetic.

History of Spinal Anesthesia

The evolution of Spinal Anesthesia dates back to 1885 with the development of this procedure by an American neurologist named Leonard Corning. He demonstrated the effect of spinal anesthesia by injecting cocaine into the spine of a dog.

The first spinal anesthesia was however done on a human being in 1898 by August Bier also using cocaine. Bier used the medication for leg surgery. Cocaine was later discontinued due to its toxicity. Today substances like lidocaine fetanyl or bupivacaine are used for spinal anesthesia. Other drugs used are cinchocaine, mepivacaine, pethidine/meperidine and ropivacaine. The effect usually lasts for about two hours.

Purpose of Spinal Anesthesia

Spinal anesthesia is usually carried out for surgery of the legs, hips or pelvis. It is most commonly used during childbirth. One advantage is that the patient is conscious during the procedure. This allows the doctor to have an interaction with the patient at all times.

Types of Spinal Anesthesia

There are two types of spinal anesthesia, spinal and epidural. Although the functions are more or less the same, there are certain basic differences which are given below:

Spinal Anesthesia

Some of the main features of spinal anesthesia are as follows:

  • Spinal anesthesia is done by injecting the cerebro-spinal fluid with local anesthetic.
  • The injection is given in the lower lumbar region at the point where the spinal cord ends.
  • It is an easy procedure and creates favorable conditions for performing surgery in that region.
  • The legs and pelvis are usually operated on by using spinal anesthesia.
  • This is also popularly used for caesarian operations and during childbirth when the pain is unbearable.

Epidural Anesthesia

  • This is done by injecting anesthesia into the epidural space.
  • It is used for surgery of the perineum, lower abdomen, lower limbs and pelvic area, although the most well-known application is during childbirth and caesarian operations.
  • Unlike spinal anesthesia, catheter techniques can also be adopted.
  • Epidural anesthesia can also be performed on the thoracic region.
  • Epidural anesthesia is more versatile that spinal anesthesia in that it the dose and combination of drugs can be varied and the application of anesthesia can be for a more prolonged period if a catheter is used.
  • Epidural anesthesia is also used during the postoperative period with different or a combination of drugs.

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