As tattoos become more and more common, the belief that anesthetists refuse to give an epidural to patients with tattoos on the back continues. Why? It all started in 2002, when two Canadian anesthesiologists published an article in the review Canadian Journal of Anesthesia. They mention the existence of certain health risks in the event of anesthesia on tattooed skin. Today, even if the authors of this work affirmed that the epidural on a tattoo is not risky, the doubt is still well installed.
The experts of the board of directors of the Club of anesthesia-resuscitation in obstetrics (CARO) and those of the pain and locoregional anesthesia committee of the French Society of Anesthesia-Resuscitation (SFAR) expressed their opinion on this subject in 2010. In response to a question put to the National Assembly, they declare “that there is no contraindication to carrying out an epidural puncture in a tattooed patient because no particular risk linked to the penetration into the deep tissues of cells containing ink has to this day has been identified. ”
These same experts issued recommendations in order to adapt the puncture technique according to the individual situations encountered, available online in a publication of Vigilance magazine. The purpose of the preoperative anesthetic consultation at around 8 months of pregnancy is to allow the anesthetist to examine the lumbar region. It is very rare that tattoos are so extensive that it is not possible to find a place where the skin is devoid of ink. Even in this case, an incision of a few millimeters before inserting the needle avoids any contact between the ink and the deep layers of the skin.
There are much more complicated contraindications to circumvent: allergies, coagulation disorders, certain neurological diseases, a skin infection at the puncture site, an outbreak of fever on D-day, certain lumbar pathologies, severe overweight or vertebral malformation. Health professionals are available to answer your questions and find alternative solutions to limit pain, such as practicing hypnosis or inhaling analgesia gas.