Tattoos May Pose Epidural Risk

Epidurals delivered through a tattoo may run risk of nerve damage
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 23, 2007 5:07 AM CDT

(Newser) – Tattooed moms-to-be may have added reason to opt for natural childbirth: Recent studies have investigated the risk of nerve damage resulting from epidural anesthesia. Commonly injected into the lower back, doctors postulate that some women experience inflammation when the needle pushes a small piece of tattoo ink into the nerves outside the spinal column, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Nearly one-quarter of Americans 18 to 50 have tattoos, and 20% of those women are tattoos on their lower back. Studies so far have conflicting results, with some subjects experiencing inflammation after the epidural and some not—and not enough data to be conclusive. "If I had a tattoo," one doctor remarked, "I'd say, 'Go around it.'"