I'm a childbirth educator and a new ob nurse. I work at a small hospital and we do intrathecals but not epidurals. I know the difference as far as effect on patients, but thats it. Where is the medication injected into for an intrathecal? Is there an actual intrathecal space or is it the subarachnoid space. From what I've read an epidural and intrathecal go into the same spot but the medications are different. Is this true? Any help would be appreciated so I can accurately answer my patients questions.
Sep 16, '01
An "intrathecal" is a subarachnoid block. Just a different medical term. The medication dose is much smaller than an epidural because it is injected directly into the subarachniod space (cauda equina and CSF). Usually, the intrathecal will last for 2-3 hours. If Duramorph is used, the effect can be longer. The epidural space is a "potential" space, made up of blood vessels and fat. The epidural space lies just posterior to the dura. Therefore, the epidural space is entered first with the needle, and only a few more mm further, you go through the dura and enter the intrathecalor subarachnoid space.
Sep 18, '01
Thanks for your reply. You answered all of my questions.