Emergency physicians can easily obtain ultrasound images of anatomical landmarks relevant to lumbar puncture

Am J Emerg Med. 2007 Mar;25(3):291-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2006.08.013.


Introduction: Although ultrasound has been used in administering epidural anesthesia, it is unknown if emergency physicians (EPs) can obtain ultrasound images useful for lumbar puncture.

Objective: The objective of the study was to determine EPs' ability to apply a standardized ultrasound technique for visualizing landmarks surrounding the dural space.

Methods: Two EPs sought to identify relevant anatomy in emergency patients. Visualization time for 5 anatomical structures (spinous processes or laminae, ligamentum flavum, dura mater, epidural space, subarachnoid space), body mass index, and perception of landmark palpation difficulty were recorded.

Results: Seventy-six subjects were enrolled. Soft tissue and bony anatomical structures were identified in all subjects. Mean body mass index was 31.4 +/- 9.8 (95% confidence interval, 29.1-33.6). High-quality images were obtained in less than 1 minute in 153 (87.9%) scans and in less than 5 minutes in 174 (100%) scans. Mean acquisition time was 57.19 seconds; SD, 68.14 seconds; range, 10 to 300 seconds.

Conclusion: In this cohort, EPs were able to rapidly obtain high-quality ultrasound images relevant to lumbar puncture.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Emergency Medicine / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lumbosacral Region / anatomy & histology*
  • Lumbosacral Region / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Spinal Puncture*
  • Ultrasonography