Epidurals are a method of long-term pain relief administered by injecting and continuously delivering an anesthetic via catheter in the spine. This method of pain relief is often used for patients in the Obstetrics/Gynecology unit as well as those in pre- and post-operational care. For almost 2 million singleton vaginal deliveries across 27 states in 2008 (representing 65% of all US singleton vaginal births in 2008), 61% of patients received some form of an epidural or spinal injection . Additionally, this number has been increasing. For the 18 states for which 2006 and 2008 data are available, the average of the state-level increases in epidural/spinal injections is approximately 4.2% revealing an overall increase in these injections. Just between 2000 and 2010, the use of epidural injections increased by 160% . Commonly, epidural catheters are inserted into the patient’s back in the appropriate location and then secured to the body with an adhesive medical dressing.
Movement and subsequent dislocation of the catheter beneath the adhesive medical dressing can result in inefficient anesthetic delivery, increased patient discomfort, and repeated administration of the epidural. Secondary migration of epidural catheters is a problem responsible for failure in approximately 6.8% of epidurals administered . Requiring an anesthesiologist to repeat the procedure is also an increased cost. A solution to secondary migration of epidural catheters would ensure effective delivery of the anesthetic to the patient, reduce the need for a repeated procedure, and prevent unwanted additional healthcare expenses.