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Continuous Spinal Anesthesia and Post Dural Puncture Headache: A Retrospective Study
  1. Usha L. Mahisekar, M.D.,
  2. Robert W. Masters, M.D.,
  3. Alon P. Winnie, M.D. and
  4. Appa Rao Vasireddy, M.D.
  1. From the Department of Anesthesiology, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois


Continuous spinal anesthesia (CSA) fell into disuse because of a presumed high incidence of post dural puncture headache (PDPH). A careful retrospective study of 226 continuous spinal anesthetics administered for a variety of surgical (not obstetric) procedures was carried out and indicated that none of the patients developed PDPH. While 62% of the patients were older than 60 years of age, a group with a low incidence of PDPH, it was expected that some of the younger patients would develop this complication, especially since 94% of the dural punctures were carried out with 17- and 18-gauge needles. This study also revealed only a 12% incidence of hypotension, an impressive finding because 64% of the patients were considered ASA III or IV. There were no other intraoperative or postoperative complications or deaths due to CSA. This retrospective study indicates that CSA, properly carried out with 17- and 18-gauge needles, is not necessarily associated with a high incidence of PDPH; and in view of its low morbidity and mortality, CSA is particularly useful and safe in the poor-risk elderly patient. This study also raises the question as to whether there is a need for the recently developed (and expensive) microcatheters that fit through very small-bore needles.

  • Continuous spinal anesthesia
  • post dural puncture headache
  • regional anesthesia

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