A Comprehensive Update on the Treatment and Management of Postdural Puncture Headache

Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2020 Apr 22;24(6):24. doi: 10.1007/s11916-020-00860-0.


Purpose of review: The purpose of this manuscript is to provide a comprehensive review of postdural puncture headache (PDPH) with a focus on epidemiology, pathophysiology, treatment, and prophylaxis.

Recent findings: PDPH is an adverse iatrogenic complication of neuraxial anesthesia that occurs following inadvertent puncture of the dura after epidural or spinal anesthesia. The overall incidence of PDPH after neuraxial procedures varies from 6 to 36%. The occurrence of PDPH can lead to increased patient morbidity, delayed discharge, and increased readmission. PDPH is a self-limiting postural headache that most often will resolve within 1 week, without need for treatment. Various prophylactic measures have been studied; however, more studies have been recommended to be undertaken in order to establish a proven benefit. For mild PDPH, conservative treatments are currently focused around bed rest, as well as oral caffeine. For moderate-to-severe PDPH, epidural blood patch (EBP) remains the most effective treatment; however, this invasive treatment is not without inherent risks. Further less invasive treatments have been explored such as epidural saline, dextran 40 mg solutions, hydration, caffeine, sphenopalatine ganglion blocks, greater occipital nerve blocks, and surgical closure of the gap; all have shown promise. Further studies are essential to prove efficacy as well as safety over the proven treatment of epidural blood patches. There is still limited evidence in literature about the understanding of PDPH and optimal treatment.

Keywords: Epidural; Epidural blood patch; Positional headache; Postdural puncture headache.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Blood Patch, Epidural / methods*
  • Disease Management*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Post-Dural Puncture Headache / diagnosis
  • Post-Dural Puncture Headache / etiology*
  • Post-Dural Puncture Headache / therapy*
  • Pregnancy
  • Sex Factors
  • Spinal Puncture / adverse effects*
  • Treatment Outcome