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J Post Anesth Nurs. 1994 Apr;9(2):101-6.

Postanesthesia nursing care for ambulatory surgery patients post-spinal anesthesia.


There has been a renewed interest in spinal anesthesia in recent years. However, its use for ambulatory surgery patients has not been as well accepted as its use for inpatients because of the high incidence of postdural puncture headache (PDPH) and uncertain patient recovery time before hospital discharge. Recently, studies indicate that the incidence of PDPH can be lowered to an acceptable level by applying improved techniques such as the use of a 27-g spinal needle or a needle with a tip designed like a pencil point, such as a Whitacre (Becton-Dickinson, Rutherford, NJ) or Sprotte (Pajunk, Geisingen, Germany) needle. Also, by using xylocaine or bupivacaine, which are short- or intermediate-acting local anesthetics, rather than tetracaine, a long-acting anesthetic, patients can be safely discharged from the hospital within 4 to 6 hours from the induction of anesthesia. These improved techniques have allowed spinal anesthesia to be a valid, even desirable, option for selected patients undergoing ambulatory surgery. When considering spinal anesthesia for ambulatory surgery patients, it is important that the postanesthesia care staff be knowledgeable, because nursing care is one of the three integral parts of total patient care that makes ambulatory surgery successful. The other two components are surgery and anesthesia management. This presentation reviews the history, indications, benefits, and complications of spinal anesthesia and recommends nursing care for patients undergoing ambulatory surgery.

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