Pleural puncture with thoracic epidural: A rare complication?

Research paper by Rachna R Wadhwa, Sandeep S Sharma, Devadatta D Poddar, Sujata S Sharma

Indexed on: 30 Jun '11Published on: 30 Jun '11Published in: Indian journal of anaesthesia


Freedom from pain has almost developed to be a fundamental human right. Providing pain relief via epidural catheters in thoracic and upper abdominal surgeries is widely accepted. Pain relief through this technique not only provides continuous analgesia but also reduces post-operative pulmonary complications and also hastens recovery. But being a blind procedure it is accompanied by certain complications. Hypotension, dura puncture, high epidural, total spinal, epidural haematoma, spinal cord injury and infection are some of the documented side effects of epidural block. There are case reports eliciting neurological complications, catheter site infections, paresthesias, radicular symptoms and worsening of previous neurological conditions. Few technical problems related to breakage of epidural catheter are also mentioned in the literature. The patient had no sequelae on long term follow up even when a portion of catheter was retained. We present a case report where epidural catheter punctured pleura in a patient undergoing thoracotomy for carcinoma oesophagus.