A postpartum patient is recovering from a cesarean section in which she had an epidural placed for pain control. Following removal of the epidural, the patient develops a severe headache when she sits up in bed. The physician has instructed the patient that she will need a blood patch. Which best describes this procedure?

 

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Correct

- Removing blood from a vein in the patient and injecting it into the epidural space in the back

- Placement of a large bandage over the site of the epidural insertion

- Replacement of the epidural catheter into the same space for long-term control

- Placement of a nerve block in the spinal column at the location of the affected epidural space

Rationale

An epidural involves placing a catheter into the epidural space of the spine to provide pain control. Occasionally, cerebrospinal fluid may leak out of the space after the catheter is removed, causing a severe headache in the patient. A blood patch can be performed by a physician to close the site and prevent further leakage of fluid. The physician takes some blood from a vein in the mother's arm and injects a small amount into the opening in the spine. The blood clots in the space, which should prevent fluid from leaking at the site.

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