Epidural Abscess Complicating Tunneled Caudal Epidural Catheter in an Infant for Postoperative Pain Management of Open Abdominal Surgery

Amr Elhamrawy, Savannah Aepli, Grant Heydinger, Joseph D. Tobias, Ralph J. Beltran


Regional anesthesia is being used more frequently in pediatric anesthesia practice, including the perioperative care of neonates and infants. Adverse effects may be encountered during epidural needle placement, with catheter advancement, or subsequently during infusion of local anesthetic agents. Despite applying standard practice of care regarding placement of epidural catheter, epidural catheter-related infections may still occur. We present the rare occurrence of an epidural abscess in a 4-month-old infant after placement and subsequent use of a tunneled caudal epidural catheter for postoperative pain management following abdominal surgery. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was the gold standard diagnostic imaging modality and was used to identify the abscess. Management included intravenous antibiotic therapy as well as hemilaminectomy with evacuation of the epidural abscess and hematoma. The patient continued to progress well with no deficits noted on neurological examination. There were no other postoperative concerns. When there is a concern for epidural catheter-related infection, the catheter should be removed immediately. The epidural catheter tip as well as any purulent discharge from the insertion site should be sent for culture and sensitivity. Urgent neurosurgical and infectious disease consultation is suggested to provide opinions regarding surgical intervention and antibiotic therapy.

J Med Cases. 2024;15(1):7-14
doi: https://doi.org/10.14740/jmc4180


Epidural anesthesia; Caudal block; Epidural abscess; Infection

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