DG Journal Club
PURPOSE A common complication of lumbar puncture (LP) is postural headaches. Epidural blood patches are recommended if patients fail conservative management. Owing to a perceived increase in the number of post-lumbar puncture headaches (PLPHs) requiring epidural blood patches at a regional hospital in our network, the decision was made to switch from 20 to 22 gauge needles for routine diagnostic LPs.
MATERIALS AND METHODS Patients presenting for LP and myelography at one network regional hospital were included in the study. The patients were contacted by nursing staff 3 days post-procedure; those patients who still had postural headaches after conservative management and received epidural blood patches were considered positive cases. In total, 292 patients were included; 134 underwent LP with 20-gauge needles (53 male, 81 female, average age 57.7) and 158 underwent LP with 22-gauge needles (79 male, 79 female, average age 54.6).
RESULTS Of 134 patients undergoing LP with 20-gauge needles, 15 (11%) had PLPH requiring epidural blood patch (11 female, 3 male, average age 38). Of 158 patients undergoing LP with 22-gauge needles, only 5 (3%) required epidural blood patches (all female, average age 43). The difference was statistically significant ( p < 0.01). Risk factors for PLPH included female gender, younger age, lower body mass index, history of prior PLPH and history of headaches.
CONCLUSION Switching from 20-gauge to 22-gauge needles significantly decreased the incidence of PLPH requiring epidural blood patch. Narrower gauge or non-cutting needles should be considered in patients with risk factors for PLPH, allowing for CSF requirements.
SOURCE : The Neuroradiology Journal