Background: This study evaluated the efficacy of spinal anesthesia administration by resident physicians when using an ultrasound system with automated neuraxial landmark detection capabilities.
Methods: 150 patients were enrolled in this trial. Anesthesiology residents placed spinals in subjects undergoing scheduled cesarean delivery using one of three techniques to identify neuraxial landmarks: palpation, ultrasound, or combined palpation and ultrasound. Ultrasound was performed using a handheld system that automatically identified neuraxial landmarks (e.g. midline, intervertebral spaces). All residents watched a 10-minute video and received 20 minutes of hands-on training prior to participating in the study. First insertion success rate was the primary end point.
Results: Among all patients, use of ultrasound resulted in a 11% greater first-insertion success rate (RR: 1.11 [0.85-1.47], p=0.431), a 15% reduction in needle insertions (RR: 0.85, p=0.052), and a 26% decrease in needle passes (RR: 0.74, p=0.070). In obese patients of BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2, use of ultrasound resulted in 26% greater first-insertion success rates (RR: 1.26, p=0.187), a 21% decrease in needle insertions (RR: 0.79, p=0.025), a 38% decrease in needle passes (RR: 0.62, p=0.030), and a 75% decrease in patients reporting neutral or low patient satisfaction with anesthesia administration (RR: 0.25, p=0.004).
Discussion: Resident anesthesiologists competently utilized the ultrasound system after receiving minimal training. Technical endpoints and patient satisfaction trended towards improvement when ultrasound was used prior to spinal placement, with stronger trends observed in obese patients. Additional study is required to fully characterize the impact of the ultrasound system on clinical efficacy.
Keywords: Bone-specific imaging; Neuraxial ultrasound; Spinal anesthesia.