Spinal Anaesthetic

This page will provide you with information about a spinal anaesthetic. For further details, you should speak to your consultant.

What is a spinal anaesthetic?

A spinal anaesthetic, or a ‘spinal,’ entails injecting local anaesthetics and other painkillers into a space near the spinal cord, called the subarachnoid space. The anaesthetics and painkillers numb the nerves, delivering pain relief to certain parts of the body. Patients can be given a spinal when they are conscious, or alongside sedation or general anaesthetic. Sometimes, patients are offered a spinal after surgery to help them deal with the pain.

How is a spinal given?

Your anaesthetist will inject anaesthetic and other painkillers through a needle into the subarachnoid space. Patients might feel a little discomfort when the needle is inserted, but it should not feel painful.

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The effects of a spinal can last anywhere between 1 and 3 hours. You will be given a large enough dosage of anaesthetics and painkillers to last you through the procedure.

Are there any potential complications with this surgery?

Most surgical procedures carry some level of risk or possible complication. These will be discussed with you by your consultant or pre-assessment nurse prior to your procedure.


In the majority of cases, a spinal offers safe and effective relief from pain during or after surgery. This procedure is suitable for most patients.


References: EIDO Healthcare Limited – The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare.

The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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