The word anesthesia refers to the loss of sensation, while caudal usually pertains to the end or tail portion of a body part. Caudal anesthesia is generally the loss of sensation from the waist down to the legs. This is due to the administration or injection of a local anesthetic into the caudal canal of the spine, which is usually found at the sacrum or rear part of the body. It is frequently done before a surgical procedure to protect the patient from pain during the operation.
An anesthesiologist, a doctor who specializes in the administration of an anesthetic, is usually the one giving the caudal anesthesia before the start of a surgical procedure. The amount of anesthetic administered usually depends on the age and weight of the patient, and the type of procedure to be performed. He often stays in the operating room to monitor his patient's vital signs, such as blood pressure and heart rate, during and after the operation.
Caudal anesthesia is commonly done in children. It is often done as a supplement to a general anesthesia, the administration of anesthetic to make the child unconscious during the procedure. This is usually done to free the child from pain and give him amnesia or no memory of what happened during the operation. Examples of surgical procedures employing caudal anesthesia in children include orchidopexy, the repair of the undescended testicle, and herniorrhaphy, the repair of hernia which is the bulging of some internal organs through the abnormal opening in the abdomen.
In adults, caudal anesthesia is usually given in procedures like hemorrhoidectomy and vaginal hysterectomy. Hemorrhoidectomy is often done for the removal of hemorrhoids or dilated blood vessels which may protrude out of the anus. Vaginal hysterectomy, on the other hand, is the removal of the uterus through the vagina. A caudal anesthesia is also done in the pain management of patients suffering from acute vascular insufficiency due to frostbite and other causes.
Before administration of an anesthetic, the site of injection is usually cleansed or made sterile. Some patients may be given medications to numb the skin before injection. The anesthesiologist then inserts a needle where the anesthetic passes through. Generally, patients won't be able to feel or move their legs once the anesthesia starts working.
The use of caudal anesthesia may manifest with some mild and serious side effects. Mild side effects include nausea and vomiting during or after the procedure. More serious effects include an allergic reaction to the drug, heart attack, long-lasting or permanent pain and numbness in some body parts.