An Overview of Neuraxial Anesthesia
Learn about neuraxial anesthesia and its possible complications, while also discussing nursing care for patients receiving this type of local anesthetic. Earn continuing education credits as you gain valuable clinical and practical knowledge.
Neuraxial Anesthesia is the administration of medication into the subarachnoid or epidural space to produce anesthesia and analgesia. It can lead to the complete absence of sensory and/or motor function at or below the site of injection. Depending on the dose and concentration of the anesthetic used, neuraxial anesthesia doesn’t always result in a complete absence of motor function. For example, the goal of neuraxial anesthesia administered to a woman in labor is to provide analgesia as she progresses through active labor but not remove her ability to move her lower extremities.
A major benefit of neuraxial anesthesia is the reduced need for parenteral opioids, which have many side effects (including respiratory depression, delirium, and GI disturbances) that are associated with cardiac, pulmonary, and kidney complications. A recent meta-analysis and systematic review by Meng and colleagues found that neuraxial anesthesia is associated with a lower incidence of these complications as well as decreased blood loss and risk of thromboembolism when compared to general anesthesia. In addition, perioperative and obstetric pain management with neuraxial anesthesia has led to improved patient satisfaction scores because of enhanced pain control and shortened hospitalizations.
Key Learning Outcomes
- Differentiate types of neuraxial anesthesia.
- Identify complications of neuraxial anesthesia.
- Discuss the nursing care of patients receiving neuraxial anesthesia.
Huy Vo, MSN, CRNA, and Dominick Berkery, MSN, CRNA
The authors are senior staff certified registered nurse anesthetists at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, California.