Epidural analgesia

Best practice in the management of epidural analgesia in the hospital setting

This guideline was produced in 2011 and is applicable to both adults and children. The introduction to this guideline is set out below.

  • Epidural analgesia is highly effective for controlling acute pain after surgery or trauma to the chest, abdomen, pelvis or lower limbs. It has the potential to provide excellent pain relief, minimal side-effects and high patient satisfaction when compared with other methods of analgesia. However, epidural analgesia can cause serious, potentially life-threatening complications; safe and effective management requires a co-ordinated multidisciplinary approach.
  • All practitioners should be aware of the complications associated with the use of epidural analgesia. Some complications can be fatal or result in permanent harm. Frequent complications include: hypotension; respiratory depression (opioid use); motor block; urinary retention; inadequate analgesia; pruritus (opioid use).

Link to the guideline