Effect of spinal needle characteristics on measurement of spinal canal opening pressure

Venkatesh R. Bellamkonda, Thomas C. Wright, Christine M. Lohse, Virginia R. Keaveny, Eric C. Funk, Michael D. Olson, Torrey A. Laack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective A wide variety of spinal needles are used in clinical practice. Little is currently known regarding the impact of needle length, gauge, and tip type on the needle's ability to measure spinal canal opening pressure. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between these factors and the opening-pressure measurement or time to obtain an opening pressure. Methods Thirteen distinct spinal needles, chosen to isolate the effects of length, gauge, and needle-point type, were prospectively tested on a lumbar puncture simulator. The key outcomes were the opening-pressure measurement and the time required to obtain that measure. Pressures were recorded at 10-s intervals until 3 consecutive, identical readings were observed. Results Time to measure opening pressure increased with increasing spinal needle length, increasing gauge, and the Quincke-type (cutting) point (P < 0.001 for all). The time to measurement ranged from 30 s to 530 s, yet all needle types were able to obtain a consistent opening pressure measure. Conclusion Although opening pressure estimates are unlikely to vary markedly by needle type, the time required to obtain the measurement increased with increasing needle length and gauge and with Quincke-type needles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)769-772
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2017


  • Headache
  • Intracranial hypertension
  • Needles
  • Process improvement
  • Spinal puncture
  • Throughput

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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