This study investigated whether the tips of spinal needles are damaged during the process of spinal anaesthesia by impact on bone, by repeated attempts at performing the block or by the use of an introducer. Used spinal needles from five different hospitals were carefully resheathed after use and a questionnaire completed. The needles were examined under a light microscope with the observer unaware of the questionnaire data. Two hundred and twenty-two needles were examined, of which 36 were damaged. Five unused control needles of each type were also examined and all were found to be undamaged. There was no significant difference between the damaged and undamaged used needles with respect to impacts on bone or the number of attempts. Pajunk 24G Sprotte needles were significantly less likely to sustain damage when the integral introducer was used as compared to an alternative introducer.