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November 17, 1951


Author Affiliations


From the Department of Anesthesiology, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and the Harrison Department of Surgical Research, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

JAMA. 1951;147(12):1118-1121. doi:10.1001/jama.1951.03670290026007

One of the controversial subjects in anesthesia has been that of the incidence and specificity of neurological sequelae attributable to spinal anesthesia.1 Various complications are cited by opponents of the method. These include headache, diplopia, backache, paresthesias in the legs, paralysis or weakness of muscles, usually in the legs, and infection either localized or diffuse in the form of meningitis. Beginning in 1948, a serious attempt was made to follow each patient who received spinal anesthesia at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, not only in the immediate postoperative period but also for periods of six months to a year afterwards. To date, 90% of some 6,000 patients have been successfully contacted in this fashion. Our experience suggests that attention to details of technique will result in a much lower incidence of neurological sequelae than is suggested in the reports cited.

The technique of spinal anesthesia can be