Anesthesiologist Questions Anesthesiologist

Can spinal anesthesia cause paralysis?

I am a 34 year old male. I will have a surgery under spinal anesthesia. Can spinal anesthesia cause paralysis?

9 Answers

Under rare circumstances, yes.
Very rare
If you are a healthy 34 year old male with normal back and normal spinal cord, the risk of paralysis is extremely rare.  Your chance of paralysis from being in a motor vehicle accident is greater.
I have had 3 spinal anesthetics for knee surgery, to avoid having a general anesthetic, so you see where my personal bias lays.

Steven Dain MD
Yes, but it has been many, many years since this has occurred. It was due to the toxic impurities in the drug. All the drugs used in the US today are from reputable companies with extensive standards for purity.
Spinal anesthesia block is a very safe and effective mode of anesthesia for appropriate surgeries. Only under very rare circumstance will spinal block result in residual neurologic deficit, such as a peri-spinal bleed (hematoma) or infection (abscess) which could cause compression of the spinal cord or spinal nerves. Be sure to avoid taking NSAID medications for 14 days prior to surgery.
One of the many possible side effects of spinal anesthesia is lower extremities paralysis. This occurs in very rare cases of epidural hematoma during or after the performance of spinal anesthesia especially when a patient is on an anticoagulant (like coumadin, xarelto, eliquis, etc.). That is the reason that patients are asked to stop anticoagulants for varying days before the performance of spinal anesthesia.
When spinal anesthesia is given correctly by a physician, it is to produce temporary paralysis to prevent current and future pain from a surgical procedure. It also produces paralysis which allows the surgeon easier access to the surgical site, like a completely relaxed leg. The chances of getting permanent paralysis is about the same as having a stroke during or after general anesthesia.
Very unlikely.
It's a rare complication, but could happen.