Can a woman with a lower-back tattoo receive an epidural? In a word, yes. But somehow, year after year, the issue around ink and spinal injection keeps coming back. Today there's an article in The Wall Street Journal, which references a report from 2002 in which two Canadian anesthesiologists questioned whether administering an epidural through a tattoo was risky. The study consisted of only three women, and, not surprisingly, there wasn't enough evidence to form a conclusion. (Since then, many doctors have been quoted as saying that unless the tattoo is brand new, the ink would be "inert" and the wound healed, posing no risk.)
Still, the rumor keeps coming back. According to the Journal, a story on the topic of tattoos and epidurals appeared in Pregnancy magazine in July. And last year, the tattoo-culture blog Needled posted a link to a Snopes item about the "urban legend" of women with lower back tattoos being denied epidurals. The Snopes author, Barbara Mikkelson, likened the rumor to Garden of Eden drama: Eve's penalty for leading Adam astray. Even though the issue has been proven time after time to be a non-issue, why won't this rumor go away? Is it a psychic punishment for women who dare to get inked in a "sexy" way? Do the women themselves feel guilty about having a "tramp stamp"? And why isn't the truth getting out?