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Revista Brasileira de Anestesiologia

Print version ISSN 0034-7094


BRAGA, Angélica de Fátima de Assunção et al. Pneumocephalus after epidural anesthesia: case report. Rev. Bras. Anestesiol. [online]. 2001, vol.51, n.4, pp.325-330. ISSN 0034-7094.

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Epidural block is the technique of choice to relieve labor pain. In spite of the advantages, it is not free from complications, such as pneumocephalus. This report aimed at presenting a case of iatrogenic pneumocephalus, diagnosed after epidural block with accidental dural puncture. CASE REPORT: A 16-year old patient, physical status ASA I, without anesthetic history was submitted to continuous epidural block for labor analgesia. After several puncture attempts at L3-L4 interspace, there was an accidental dural puncture. A new epidural puncture at L2-L3 was attempted without success. Another puncture in L3-L4 was attempted and after epidural space identification through the technique of loss of resistance to air, local anesthetics and fentanyl were injected followed by catheter introduction. Twenty minutes after blockade fetal distress was observed and cesarean section was indicated with an additional dose of local anesthetic administered through the catheter. Patient remained hemodynamically stable and conscious during surgery with a slow motor block recovery (14 h). There were two postoperative seizures with an interval of 12 h between them, which reverted spontaneously. Neurological evaluation was normal and CT scan revealed an image with air density compatible with pneumocephalus. Patient was discharged 3 days later without sequelae. CONCLUSIONS: This case confirms the possibility of iatrogenic pneumocephalus during epidural block using the loss of resistance to air technique to identify the epidural space. In the presence of signs and symptoms of meningeal irritation, CT is the diagnostic tool recommended for the differential diagnosis of pneumocephalus and other causes.

Keywords : ANESTHETIC TECHNIQUES, Regional [epidural]; COMPLICATIONS, Neurologic [pneumocephalus]; SURGERY [Obstetric].

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