Once the catheter is placed, it will be injected with medication, usually a local anesthetic and/or a narcotic. We will assess that the catheter is functioning correctly by observing for signs of pain relief from the medications, as well as development of numbness from the local anesthetic. You will be monitored for 20 to 40 minutes by a nurse and a Pain Management physician. If there are no signs of problems, you will be ready to leave the recovery area and return to your hospital room.
Your epidural catheter will be dosed with medications on either an intermittent or continuous basis based on the determination of the Pain Management physician. The catheter is designed for short term use only and is normally removed prior to discharge from the hospital. In some cases patients are discharged home with the catheter and are managed at home with the assistance of a home nursing agency.
If you have any questions after the procedure, the medical staff of the Pain Management Center is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. During normal business hours, you can reach either the nurse of physician by calling 650-723-6238. After hours, the physician on call can be reached by calling the Stanford Hospital page operator at 650-723-6661.
These will be provided for you, in further detail, by the nurse, prior to your discharge from the hospital. Before going home, the catheter will be removed and the insertion site will be dressed with a gauze dressing.
If you go home with the temporary epidural catheter in place, the catheter insertion site will be dressed with a clear plastic dressing. This allows you to be able to monitor the site for any signs of infection such as redness or swelling. Your home nursing agency will change the dressing as ordered and also inspect the site for any evidence of infection or problems.