Show Summary Details
Page of

Postdural puncture headache 

Postdural puncture headache
Chapter:
Postdural puncture headache
Author(s):

Michael J. Paech

and Patchareya Nivatpumin

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198713333.003.0027
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD MEDICINE ONLINE (www.oxfordmedicine.com). © Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Medicine Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 27 February 2020

Postdural puncture headache (PDPH) may follow either deliberate or unintentional (accidental) penetration of the interdigitating meninges, the dura and arachnoid mater. It is one of the most common and clinically important complications of regional anaesthesia and analgesia in the obstetric population. The headache develops as a consequence of cerebrospinal fluid loss, low intracranial pressure and cerebrovascular changes in the upright position and can prove debilitating. The diagnosis is clinical, making thorough assessment and regular review all the more important, to revise treatment plans, exclude rare serious pathology such as subdural haematoma, and avoid misdiagnosis. This chapter reviews the pathophysiology, incidence, risk factors (needle, technical and patient related), features, natural history, diagnosis, and management of PDPH. High level evidence supports prevention by using small gauge, non-cutting spinal needles, but other preventative strategies against either unintentional dural puncture or PDPH are poorly supported. The absent or poor efficacy of measures such as bed rest, hydration, cerebral vasoconstrictor therapy, epidural or intrathecal saline injection, intrathecal catheter placement or prophylactic epidural blood patch, is noted. Validation of better evidence supporting epidural morphine or intravenous cosyntropin is required. Symptomatic treatment of PDPH is also unreliable. Very limited evidence that requires substantiation supports a modest benefit from caffeine, gabapentinoids or intravenous hydrocortisone. The intervention of epidural blood patch is highly likely to relieve post-spinal PDPH, but only completely resolves epidural needle-induced PDPH in 30–50% of cases. Much detail about EBP remains undetermined, but delayed intervention and injection of approximately 20 mL of autologous blood appear appropriate.

Access to the complete content on Oxford Medicine Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.