Persistent Post-DuraI-Puncture Headache Treated With Epidural Infusion of Dextran


Antonio Aldrete, M.D., M.S., Medical Director, Center for Pain Management, 107 Melvin Street, Destin, FL 32541



A retrospective review was done on medical records of 13 patients with persistent post-dural-puncture headaches after one or more epidural blood patches. Headache occurred in nine patients with post-laminectomy syndrome after “wet taps” while performing epidural blocks. In two patients post-dural-puncture headache appeared after long term implanted intrathecal catheters were removed. In two other cases headache developed after spinal anesthesia. Treatment included bed rest, intravenous hydration and at least one epidural blood patch; three patients were given 60 milliliters of epidural saline, without success. Eight epidural catheters were inserted through the lumbar access and five through the caudal approach. Initially, a bolus of 20 milliliters of dextran-40 was given followed by an infusion of 3 mL/hr, until 12 hours after the head pain and any other related symptoms subsided. In all patients the headache disappeared within 20 hours after initiating therapy (9.55 mean hours, SD ± 0.79). In five patients headache ceased in less than five hours. Nausea and photo-phobia subsided earlier. Patients with post-dural-puncture headache resistant to other treatments, including at least one epidural blood patch, were successfully treated by a bolus followed by continuous epidural infusion of dextran-40.