Physiology of spinal anaesthesia and practical suggestions for successful spinal anaesthesia

Best Pract Res Clin Anaesthesiol. 2003 Sep;17(3):289-303. doi: 10.1016/s1521-6896(02)00114-3.


There are numerous physiological effects of spinal anaesthesia. This chapter focuses on the physiological effects that are of clinical relevance to the anaesthesiologist, and provides suggestions for successful management of this simple and popular technique. The mechanisms and clinical significance of spinal-anaesthesia-induced hypotension, bradycardia and cardiac arrest are reviewed. The increasing popularity of ambulatory spinal anaesthesia requires knowledge that long-acting local anaesthetics, such as bupivacaine, impair the ability to void far longer than short-acting local anaesthetics, such as lidocaine. The importance of thermoregulation during spinal anaesthesia, and the clinical consequences of spinal-anaesthesia-induced hypothermia are reviewed. Effects of spinal anaesthesia on ventilatory mechanics are also highlighted. Lastly, the sedative and minimum-alveolar-concentration-sparing effects of spinal anaesthesia are discussed to reinforce the need for the judicious use of sedation in the perioperative setting.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia, Spinal / adverse effects
  • Anesthesia, Spinal / methods*
  • Humans