Neuroradiol J. 2021 Mar 8:19714009211000630. doi: 10.1177/19714009211000630. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE: A common complication of lumbar puncture (LP) is postural headaches. Epidural blood patches are recommended if patients fail conservative management. Owing to a perceived increase in the number of post-lumbar puncture headaches (PLPHs) requiring epidural blood patches at a regional hospital in our network, the decision was made to switch from 20 to 22 gauge needles for routine diagnostic LPs.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Patients presenting for LP and myelography at one network regional hospital were included in the study. The patients were contacted by nursing staff 3 days post-procedure; those patients who still had postural headaches after conservative management and received epidural blood patches were considered positive cases. In total, 292 patients were included; 134 underwent LP with 20-gauge needles (53 male, 81 female, average age 57.7) and 158 underwent LP with 22-gauge needles (79 male, 79 female, average age 54.6).
RESULTS: Of 134 patients undergoing LP with 20-gauge needles, 15 (11%) had PLPH requiring epidural blood patch (11 female, 3 male, average age 38). Of 158 patients undergoing LP with 22-gauge needles, only 5 (3%) required epidural blood patches (all female, average age 43). The difference was statistically significant (p < 0.01). Risk factors for PLPH included female gender, younger age, lower body mass index, history of prior PLPH and history of headaches.
CONCLUSION: Switching from 20-gauge to 22-gauge needles significantly decreased the incidence of PLPH requiring epidural blood patch. Narrower gauge or non-cutting needles should be considered in patients with risk factors for PLPH, allowing for CSF requirements.