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Avatar universal

Epidural Abscess

I delivered my first baby on Sept. 4, 2000 with the assistance of an epidural.  The site where the injection was made then swelled, was red and by 7 days later, started draining pus.  I immediately went to the doctor where I was sent to the hospital and the abscess was lanced and drained.  I was seen in the emergency room the following night where it was once again lanced.  This was left open to drain for approx. 6 weeks.  I also might add that this was the most painful experience I have ever had.
Now, six months later, I have numbness on my right leg from the knee down and when I sit for prolonged periods of time and go to get up, the tops of my feet feel like someone is stabbing them with a knife and it takes me a few minutes to be able to walk.  I just recently had another MRI which showed no abscess present but a mild broad based disc bulge at L3-4 and L4-5.  Could this be related to the abscess?  I had an MRI about two days after the site was lanced the first time since they were concerned about meningitis.
Also, are epidural abscesses very common?  What is the main cause of them?  I had an unbelievable uneventful pregnancy but this has really made me question whether I want to have another child.  Any input would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks.
3 Responses
Avatar universal
Dear New:

I am sorry to hear about  your abcess.  An abcess would likely not cause a disc bulge.  Likely you either have had this for quite some time or it was the result of the pregancy, before the abcess.  The bad outcome of the epidural is highly unusual in my experience.  I would imagine that your parathesias (pain) will resolve over time.  

The most common etiology of the abcess was the open wound (needle into the back during delivery).  Most of the time the site is covered but during the delivery process the covering can come off, and likely this was what happened to you.  

By the way, congradulations on the new child in the family.  I hope that he/she is healthy.


CCF Neuro MD
Avatar universal
Thank you very much for your information.  My beautiful son is doing wonderfully.  We had a rough start but all in all he was definately worth it!!!
I did see one of my lab reports that said 3+ Staphylococcus so I would think that your assumption is correct in how this happened.  I am glad to know however that this is not common because I certainly wouldn't want anyone else to have to go through what I did for the first two months of my new son's life!
Thank you so much!
Avatar universal
I am a labor and delivery nurse.  Your experience is indeed unusual, but as you painfully found out, possible.  It makes my  blood boil every time I hear an anesthesiologist get a consent from a patient and never, ever mention infection as a possible complication.  They mention the rare incidence of nerve damage, and the not so rare incidence of accidental spinal, but not infection.

However, most women in childbirth who want an epidural would not be put off by any sort of statistic as to possible complications!  If they are in extreme pain and want the epidural, they want it NOW!  
I would suggest with your next pregnancy you do not have an epidural.  Get a doula, look into hypnotherapy, have access to massage and a nice tub to labor in.  
Good luck!
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