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Int J Obstet Anesth. 1997 Apr;6(2):118-21.

Epidural abscess in association with obstetric epidural analgesia.

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  • 1Academic Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Hull Maternity Hospital, Hull, UK.


A 31-year-old woman gravida 4 para 2 who had received epidural analgesia during labour (duration of catheterization 6.5 h) was readmitted 8 days later with a complaint of flu-like symptoms, severe backache and numbness of her thighs. She had a sensory deficit from T4 to L1 and was unable to stand without support. The severe backache prevented adequate assessment of motor function. An MRI scan suggested an epidural mass. Surgical decompression by hemilaminectomy was carried out within 24 h of admission and revealed an epidural abscess. Culture of the drained pus grew Streptococcus pneumoniae. She made a complete recovery and was discharged home on the tenth day. This case illustrates the problem of diagnosing serious postnatal problems that arise following the now fashionable early discharge from hospital.

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