Mercy Medical Center North Iowa

Epidural Injection

About Your Epidural Injection

What is an Epidural Injection?
An epidural injection is given to try to relieve chronic pain.  It is used in the following circumstances:

1.  As a final effort to relieve pain before surgery is attempted.
2.  If surgery is not an option or is not expected to help.
3.  If surgery was already done but symptoms remain.

A long acting anesthetic and steroid are injected into the space around the outside covering (dura) of the spinal nerves in the lower back.  A radiologist performs this procedure with the aid of the x-ray camera, to ensure optimal placement of the injection.
Why is it Done?
When nerves are pressed on by a disc, spur or scar, they become inflamed and swollen, causing pain. The anesthetic helps relieve the pain. The steroid reduces inflammation and swelling, thereby reducing the pressure on the nerve, which also helps relieve pain for a variable length of time. The procedure does not work on everyone, but most people find relief lasting anywhere from one month to many years.
1.  No eating or drinking for four hours before the exam.  You may eat and drink afterwards.
2.  Please take all your prescribed medications as usual.
3.  Do not take blood-thinning medications for five days prior to the procedure.
Please report to Admitting the day of the test.  Someone from Mercy imaging Department will come and escort you.  The procedure will be explained to you.  Questions may be asked about your pain, current medications, and if you have allergies or high blood pressure.  Most patients have no discomfort during the procedure.
You will be asked to lie on your stomach.  Your lower back is cleaned.  The radiologist numbs the skin where the needle is placed. Once the needle is in place, some x-ray contrast material (dye) is injected and pictures taken to confirm good needle position.  Then the medication will be given.
 The whole procedure takes approximately 15-30 minutes.
You will be asked to lie down on your back where you will be under observation for at least 30 minutes.  This is to ensure that you do not experience temporary numbness or weakness, or blood pressure changes after the exam.  These problems are all uncommon, but if they should arise, Mercy would like you to stay a little longer until they resolve.

You will need someone to drive you home.

If you have any questions, ask your health care provider or call the Mercy Imaging Services: 
or 1-800-433-3883, ext. 7200.