What Is a Temporary Epidural Catheter?

An epidural catheter is a very fine plastic catheter (tube) that is placed through the skin into the epidural space in your spine. This temporary catheter is left in place for a defined period of time; normally less than two weeks. The catheter allows access to the epidural space to inject medication such as local anesthetics and/or narcotics for relief of pain.

Temporary epidural catheters are used for tempory treatment of painful conditions that require pain control for intensive physical therapy and/or joint mobilization. They are also used prognostically for trials of spinal medications prior to placement of permanent implanted ports or programmable pumps.

How quickly can I expect pain relief?

With an epidural catheter, patients can obtain pain relief within minutes. It may, however, take a few days to adjust the dose for the optimal pain relief. The catheter gives your pain management physician the ability to adjust the medication and determine the appropriate dosage.

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Learn more about the Stanford approach by visiting the Pain Management Center
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