Background: In this study, we sought to determine the frequency and outcomes of epidural hematomas after epidural catheterization.
Methods: Eleven centers participating in the Multicenter Perioperative Outcomes Group used electronic anesthesia information systems and quality assurance databases to identify patients who had epidural catheters inserted for either obstetrical or surgical indications. From this cohort, patients undergoing laminectomy for the evacuation of hematoma within 6 weeks of epidural placement were identified.
Results: Seven of 62,450 patients undergoing perioperative epidural catheterizations developed hematoma requiring surgical evacuation. The event rate was 11.2 × 10(-5) (95% confidence interval [CI], 4.5 × 10(-5) to 23.1 × 10(-5)). Four of the 7 had anticoagulation/antiplatelet therapy that deviated from American Society of Regional Anesthesia guidelines. None of 79,837 obstetric patients with epidural catheterizations developed hematoma (upper limit of the 95% CI, 4.6 × 10(-5)). The hematoma rate in obstetric epidural catheterizations was significantly lower than in perioperative epidural catheterizations (P = 0.003).
Conclusions: In this series, the 95% CI for the frequency of epidural hematoma requiring laminectomy after epidural catheter placement for perioperative anesthesia/analgesia was 1 event per 22,189 placements to 1 event per 4330 placements. Risk was significantly lower in obstetric epidurals.