Can a pregnant woman with a lumbar (lower back) tattoo be refused an epidural by their anesthesiologist?
It is possible for a pregnant woman with a lower back tattoo to be refused an epidural, but becoming increasingly unlikely. If you have a concern, you should definately speak with your doctor.
There has been research conducted regarding women with lower back tattoos and possible interference with neuraxial analgesia and anesthesia. Findings have shown that there has been no complication as a direct result of passing an epidural needle through a tattoo. Some women have been able to receive the needle through a space between the tattoo pigment, other have received the needle directly through the pigment.
There are many theories behind the belief that there could be an increased risk to women with a lumbar tattoo, one of which is based on a complication arising from an epidural known as coring, and this is a complication that could be experienced by women with or without a tattoo. Coring occurs when the large epidural needle punctures a small piece of skin, and drags that piece of skin into the epidural, subdural or subarachnoid spaces, which may cause neurological complications. The theory may suggest that if coring occurs with a piece of pigmented skin, there could be an increased risk to the patient.
If you have a concern, it is always best to consult with your doctor to determine the best solution for your specific situation.