Tattoo and epidural analgesia: Rise and fall of a myth

Presse Med. 2020 Dec;49(4):104050. doi: 10.1016/j.lpm.2020.104050. Epub 2020 Aug 5.


Since 2002, it has been unclear whether epidural analgesia (EA) could safe through a lower back tattoo. Theoretical risks of pigment tissue coring have led to precautionary measures and misconception that EA should be excluded. We reviewed chronologically the 18 years of medical literature summarizing the so-called risks of EA through lower back tattoo in parturient women. To date, no convincing complication has been ever reported after an EA through a tattoo. We hope this review will bring a closure to a 18-year-old "non-issue" that has poisoned and stressed unnecessarily a generation of parturient.

Keywords: Epidural analgesia; Infiltration; Pregnancy; Spine; Tattoo; Tattooing; Tissue coring.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesia, Epidural* / adverse effects
  • Analgesia, Epidural* / history
  • Analgesia, Epidural* / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Mythology
  • Obstetric Labor Complications / epidemiology
  • Obstetric Labor Complications / history
  • Pregnancy
  • Tattooing* / adverse effects
  • Tattooing* / statistics & numerical data
  • Therapeutic Misconception