Transforaminal lumbar puncture for spinal anesthesia or novel drug administration: a technique combining C-arm fluoroscopy and ultrasound

Reg Anesth Pain Med. 2022 Jun;47(6):380-383. doi: 10.1136/rapm-2021-103242. Epub 2022 Mar 23.


Background: Lumbar puncture (LP) may be challenging for patients with scoliosis and other conditions following previous posterior fusion and instrumentation from thoracic to sacral levels. Interventional radiologists have described CT approaches to transforaminal LP. We hypothesized that combined C-arm fluoroscopy and ultrasound could be a feasible approach to transforaminal LP for interventional pain physicians and regional anesthesiologists.

Methods: With institutional review board approval, we reviewed medical records and imaging of six patients with spinal muscular atrophy and prior spine fusion. Non-cutting needles of 24 or 25 gage were advanced through 20-gage introducers. Prior imaging guided selection of a preferred side and spinal level. Initial procedures were performed in the interventional radiology suite. Subsequent procedures were performed in an operating room (OR). We report on technical success and complications and describe a case using this approach for spinal anesthesia.

Results: Six patients underwent a total of 54 transforaminal LPs, including 51 for administration of the antisense oligonucleotide nusinersen, 2 for myelography, and 1 for spinal anesthesia; 45 of these procedures were performed using OR C-arm fluoroscopy and ultrasound. Transient paresthesias and short-term headaches occurred; none required intervention. No other complications were noted.

Conclusions: Transforaminal LP appears technically feasible for patients with full-spine fusions using a straight-needle approach with combined fluoroscopy and ultrasound guidance. Larger case series and prospective studies may better define the success rates, risks, and benefits of this approach relative to alternative approaches to intrathecal access for patients with previous long-segment posterior spine fusions.

Keywords: diagnostic techniques and procedures; injections, spinal; multimodal imaging; pediatrics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia, Spinal*
  • Fluoroscopy / methods
  • Humans
  • Muscular Atrophy, Spinal*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Spinal Puncture / adverse effects