Is a spinal anaesthetic the same as an epidural?

It is similar, but not quite the same. An epidural allows anaesthetic to be given through a plastic tube to numb the nerves entering the spinal cord and can last for many hours. A spinal anaesthetic is given as a 'one off' injection into your spine, and the needle enters the space that contains CSF (cerebro-spinal fluid), and its effect will last for about 1-2 hours; it cannot be 'topped up' as an epidural can be. The advantage of a spinal is that it is usually quick to put in, and works more rapidly than does an epidural.
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