In this section
Your doctor or anaesthetist
may have talked about epidural analgesia for your child's pain
management after surgery. Epidurals are commonly used as pain management for women
Epidurals are also used for
babies, infants and children after surgery to help them recover faster by providing very good pain relief. The Royal
Children's Hospital has been using epidural analgesia for many
years to provide pain relief after some surgery involving the
chest, abdomen or lower limbs.
Complications are rare and
these will be discussed with you by the
anaesthetist. The risk will be weighed up against the benefit
of having an epidural. The Children's Pain Management Service staff
will manage the epidural and your child's pain.
A special needle is placed
between the bones of the back (the vertebrae) and a piece of fine
tubing called a catheter is placed in the epidural
The anaesthetist will put
the epidural catheter in your child's back once they are asleep
under the general anaesthetic. The catheter is then taped securely
to your child's skin so they cannot pull it
Local anaesthetic is given
through the catheter by a special pump. The local anaesthetic numbs
the nerves which stops the sensation of pain over the operation
Epidurals can provide good
pain relief because they can stop your child feeling pain in the
area where they have had surgery, without the side effects that some
other pain medicines have.
Epidurals are mainly used
for hip and leg operations and some abdominal (tummy) and chest
Most children feel numb
over the operation area and sometimes describe the feeling as
'fizzy' or 'tingly'. They may have less strength in their legs,
which may feel heavy. Most children don't find this sensation
Your child should be comfortable enough to
move or cough. If your child has an epidural for surgery below the
belly button, it is likely they will require a urinary catheter
which drains the urine from the bladder, just while the epidural is
The Children's Pain Management Service (CPMS)
staff will visit your child twice a day and make sure the
epidural is working well. If it is not working well, the
epidural infusion can be altered and other pain medicines may also
The epidural is usually
removed after three to four days and the removal is not painful or distressing.
After the epidural is turned off, the 'fizzy' and heavy feelings wear off and normal feeling returns after about four hours. CPMS staff will make sure your child has other pain medicine ordered for when
the epidural is stopped.
Your child will be given
regular pain medicine by mouth after the epidural has been removed
and may need pain medicine for a few days after going
You will receive an
epidural discharge information sheet before you go home.
If your child needs strong
pain medicine at home the CPMS nurse will
contact you by phone to help you manage your child's
Developed by the RCH Dept of Anaesthesia
and Pain Management in consultation with the Children's Pain
Management Service. First published January 2009. Updated August 2015.
This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.