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 is an injection of anaesthetic and painkillers which is made into the subarachnoid space, near the spinal cord. This procedure, more commonly known as ‘a spinal,’ delivers pain relief to areas of the body by numbing the nerves. A spinal anaesthetic can be delivered while the patient is awake, or with sedatives or general anaesthetic. It may be offered to patients after they have had surgery to help them deal with pain.

How is a spinal anaesthetic delivered?

Using a needle, an anaesthetist will inject anaesthetic and painkillers into the subarachnoid space, before removing the needle. Although this process is rarely painful, patients may feel a little uncomfortable.

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Your anaesthetist will ensure that the dosage will last longer that the predicted time of your procedure. The anaesthetic typically wears off after 1-3 hours.

What are the risks?

Possible risks include:

  • Headache or backache
  • Failure for the spinal to work
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Infection
  • Problems when passing urine
  • A loss of hearing
  • A change of hearing
  • Unexpected high block
  • Damage to your nerves
  • Cardiovascular collapse


A spinal, which can be delivered during or after surgery, leaves most patients feeling significantly more comfortable. It is a safe and effective option for the majority of 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.

Spinal Anaesthetic Consultants