A small injection into the back makes you completely numb from the waste down giving excellent pain relief without the need for strong pain killers.
Your anaesthetist will discuss the options, risks and benefits of a spinal anaesthetic with you where appropriate during the anaesthetic visit prior to your operation.
Spinal anaesthetics are very commonly used for hip & knee replacements and for major bowel surgery.
Spinal anaesthetics can be used alone, with sedation or with a general anaesthetic.
Benefits include better pain relief immediately after your operation and less risk to you if you suffer with certain heart or lung conditions.
Spinal anaesthetics last for a few hours, after which they wear off. Your anaesthetist may suggest a regional anaesthetic block in addition to your spinal anaesthetic, or ask the surgeon to put local anaesthetic around the site of your operation to reduce your need for strong pain killers after your operation.
Occasionally an epidural or a caudal anaesthetic may be appropriate and again your anaesthetist will discuss this with you before your operation.