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Post dural puncture headache
Classification and external resources
ICD-10 G44.820, G97.0
ICD-9 349.0
MeSH D051299

Post dural puncture headache (PDPH) is a complication of puncture of the dura mater (one of the meninges that surround the brain and spinal cord).[1] This occurs in spinal anesthesia and lumbar puncture, and may, accidentally, occur in epidural anesthesia.

Presentation and pathophysiology

PDPH typically occurs hours to days after puncture and presents with symptoms such as headache and nausea that typically worsen when the patient assumes an upright posture.

It is thought to result from a loss of cerebrospinal fluid[1] into the epidural space. A decreased hydrostatic pressure in the subarachnoid space then leads to traction to the meninges with associated symptoms.

The incidence of PDPH is higher with younger patients, complicated or repeated puncture, and use of large diameter needles. Modern, atraumatic needles such as the Sprotte spinal needle leave a smaller perforation and reduce the risk for PDPH.


Some patients require no other treatment than analgesics, caffeine, and bed rest.

However, persistent and severe PDPH may require an epidural blood patch. A small amount of the patient's blood is injected into the epidural space near the site of the original puncture; the resulting blood clot then "patches" the meningeal leak. The procedure carries the typical risks of any epidural puncture. However, it is effective,[2] and further intervention is rarely necessary.


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