In most cases, an anesthesiologist, obstetrician, or nurse anesthetist administers epidurals. Typically, they will ask the patient to sit up entirely or lay on their left side with their back arched. Research shows that these positions increase the epidural’s effectiveness. A healthcare professional sterilizes the patient's mid-back area near the waistline to prevent infection. Then they administer a local anesthetic into the small area on the back. Once the area is numb, they insert a needle between the bones, through the ligaments, and then through the membrane that surrounds the spinal cord. The physician then threads a small tube or catheter into the epidural space. After this, they remove the needle and tape the catheter into place, ready for the medication. Epidural medication generally uses a combination of a local anesthetic for numbing purposes and a narcotic for pain relief.
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