- •After observed dural puncture, intrathecal catheter insertion has been advocated.
- •Conventional meta-analysis shows post-puncture headache and blood patches are reduced.
- •Trial-sequential analysis tests for the presence of firm evidence in meta-analyses.
- •Trial-sequential analysis reveals insufficient evidence for drawing firm conclusions.
- •We call for an evidence-based clinical practice guideline.
Our meta-analysis from 2013 showed that inserting a catheter intrathecally after an observed accidental dural puncture can reduce the need for epidural blood patch in labouring women requesting epidural analgesia. We updated our conventional meta-analysis and added a trial-sequential analysis (TSA).
A systematic literature search was conducted to identify studies that compared inserting the catheter intrathecally with an epidural catheter re-site or with no intervention. The extracted data were pooled and the risk ratio (RR) and 95% confidence interval (95%CI) for the incidence of post-dural puncture headache (PDPH) was calculated, using the random effects model. A contour-enhanced funnel plot was constructed. A TSA was performed and the cumulative Z score, monitoring and futility boundaries were constructed.
Our search identified 13 studies, reporting on 1653 patients, with a low risk of bias. The RR for the incidence of PDPH was 0.82 (95%CI 0.71 to 0.95) and the RR for the need for epidural blood patch was 0.62 (95%CI 0.49 to 0.79); heterogeneity of both analyses was high. The TSA showed that the monitoring or futility boundaries were not crossed, indicating insufficient data to exclude a type I error of statistical analysis. Contour-enhanced funnel plots were symmetric, suggesting no publication bias.
Conventional meta-analyses showed for the first time that intrathecal catheterisation can reduce the incidence of PDPH. However, TSA did not corroborate this finding. Despite increasing use in clinical practice there is no firm evidence on which to base a definite conclusion.