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This mom has had an epidural needle stuck in her spine for 14 years

The result of a CT scan for chronic pain came as a big shock.

Giving birth can be nerve-racking to say the least. It’s normal to worry about D-day because every expectant mother experiences the pain of childbirth differently and complications aren’t uncommon. It doesn’t help when you hear scary stories about medical mistakes in the delivery room.

Illustration of a pregnant woman with her back exposed and orange butterflies behind her What you need to know before getting an epidural A woman who gave birth 14 years ago at a Jacksonville, Floridahospital recently found out that the sharp, chronic pain she has lived with in her back and legs ever since the delivery is because a fragment of a broken epidural needle has been stuck in her spine for all these years.

Amy Bright was set for a planned C-section in September 2003 and says that after delivering her youngest son, she immediately felt acute pain in her back and leg. She was still in pain when she was discharged from the hospital, and according to Bright, has been ever since.

“It feels like fire, like a poker next to my tailbone,” Bright told First Coast News. “And then on occasion, it shoots down the left side of my leg on my calf, like my calf side, and then down and into my foot.”

After years of not knowing the cause of her chronic pain, it came as a shock a few months ago when Bright got the results of a CT scan in Texas, where she now lives.

CT scan of woman's spine with a needle in it

Photo: News 4 Jax

The scan showed a piece of the needle, three centimetres long, lodged into one of the bones on her spine. Bright was told by doctors that the embedded needle caused permanent nerve damage because it has been in her body for so long. Sadly, surgery to remove the needle is considered too risky, and Bright will have to live with the needle in place for the rest of her life.

In a normal epidural situation, the needle is safely injected into the spinal canal to release anesthetic into the body. But based on the CT scan image, the medical provider must have inserted the needle incorrectly—across the spinal canal and straight into her spine.

According to other media reports, Bright and her attorney say the hospital must have known the needle broke off in Bright’s spine, but chose not to tell her. They have started legal action against Naval Hospital Jacksonville, claiming medical malpractice that includes failure to provide proper anesthesia care and failure to inform her that the incident had occurred. If a settlement cannot be reached, an official lawsuit will be filed.

“I was so mad that they hid this from me,” Bright told CBS.

Read more:
8 epidural myths that way too many women believe
What I wish I knew about post-dural puncture headaches before I got an epidural