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Semin Perinatol. 2002 Apr;26(2):146-53.

Postdural puncture headache in obstetrics.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Postdural puncture headache (PDPH; or "spinal headache) is the most common significant complication from regional anesthesia or analgesia in obstetrics. Recent advances in spinal needle design have dramatically decreased the incidence of headache after spinal anesthesia, and now the most common cause of PDPH is inadvertent puncture of the dura with an epidural needle. The diagnosis and treatment of a PDPH should usually be the responsibility of the anesthesiologist, but it is important for the obstetrician to be familiar with the clinical course and options for therapy, and the usual treatment strategies. This article discusses the differential diagnosis of postdelivery headache, the current understanding of the pathophysiology of PDPH, options for medical treatment, and the controversial issue of whether and when to treat the headache with an epidural blood patch.

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