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Superior precision and control.

Longer needles have been shown to be more effective at obtaining CSF for Combined Spinal Analgesia. IMD offers a comprehensive range of individually packaged, sterile needles in a variety of longer lengths for Neuraxial Anesthesia (Spinal, Epidural and CSE).


Clinical Studies


Longer Needle More Effective at Obtaining CSF For Combined Spinal Epidural Analgesia


Dr. Catherine L. Hamilton


In a recent study, the Sprotte needle was associated with a significantly higher failure rate (17%) for obtaining cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) during combined spinal epidural analgesia for labor and delivery; this finding comes from a comparison with the longer Gertie Marx needle, which had a 100% success rate in obtaining CSF. The Sprotte needle is 9 mm in length beyond the top of the Tuohy needle with the hubs engaged; the Gertie Marx needle extends 17 mm beyond the tip of the Tuohy needle.


“The shorter needle is clearly inadequate for many patients,” noted Dr. Catherine L. Hamilton, Fellow in Obstetrical Anesthesia, Department of Anesthesia, Stanford University School of Medicine, California.


When CSF could not be obtained with the Sprotte needle, patients were switched to the Gertie Marx needle in order to use the combined spinal epidural technique, Dr. Hamilton explained. In those patients, 83% developed a post-dural puncture headache.


“Even though we failed to obtain CSF with the Sprotte needle, we may have punctured the dura,” she observed.


“Based on this study, we would recommend that if the needle does not obtain CSF for a combined spinal epidural needle technique, don’t try with another needle because there may be an occult dural puncture and that patient may be at increased risk for a spinal headache,” Dr. Hamilton cautioned.


The present study was prompted by a high failure rate with an intrathecal sufentanil technique in a previous study undertaken by the same group. In the previous study, CSF was not obtained in 7% of cases; and in another 7% or 8%, CSF was obtained and sufentanil was injected, but the patients did not gain any pain relief.


“This high failure prompted us to suspect that the Sprotte needle was too short or that it deviated from the midline. We hypothesized that it was the length of the needle,” explained Dr. Hamilton.


A randomized, double-blind, pros-pective trial comparing the Sprotte needle with the Gertie Marx needle was undertaken in 73 laboring women. The study evaluated success at obtaining CSF, adequacy of analgesia achieved using the combined spinal epidural technique and the occurrence of postdural headaches.


The procedure was performed with either of the two needles using a midline approach at L2-3 or L3-4 with the patient sitting. If no CSF was obtained, the alternate needle was tried. After obtaining CSF, sufentanil 10 µg, diluted in saline, was injected. An epidural catheter was threaded but not used until the patient requested more pain relief.


“Results confirmed our hypothesis that the shorter needle was associated with a higher failure rate,” said Dr. Hamilton. Failure to obtain CSF occurred in six patients in the Sprotte needle group versus none in the Gertie Marx group. In all the failures, the Gertie Marx needle was subsequently successful in obtaining CSF. Seven patients requested additional analgesia within 30 minutes (three in the Sprotte group, and four in the Gertie Marx group). “These seven analgesic failures were not all explained on the basis of rapid labor,” she noted. Although 12 patients developed postdural puncture headaches, there were too few patients to draw conclusions regarding the relative incidence of headache with the two needles, she said. Six patients received epidural blood patches.


“We are now using a Gertie Marx needle for laboring patients who request combined spinal epidural analgesia,” concluded Dr. Hamilton.


Sheila Cohen, MB, ChB, was senior author of this paper; others associated with the study were Drs. E.T. Riley and E.F. Ratner.

A Comparison of Complications Which Occur Following Combined Spinal-Epidural or Continuous Infusion Lumbar Epidural Analgesia for Labor

Ramasamy M, Birnbach DJ, Stein DJ, Bourlier RA, Danzer BI,



Epidural and combined spinal epidural (CSE) techniques are both being used to provide maternal analgesia during labor. Since combined spinal-epidural analgesia for labor is a relatively new technique, there are few studies which have evaluated its complications. We retrospectively reviewed all cases of CSE and epidural analgesia for labor at our institution during a six- month period, to compare the safety and efficacy of these two currently used techniques.



A retrospective review of all charts of patients who received labor analgesia during the six month period from July 1994-January 1995 was completed. Each chart was evaluated for the following complications at any time between initiation of the block and discharge from the labor and delivery suite: failed block, fetal distress within 15 minutes of initiation of the block, inadequate block when attempt was made to bring up level for cesarean section, total spinal, inability to phonate, inability to swallow, headache, intrathecal placement of catheter, intravascular placement of catheter, or use of less local anesthetic than expected to achieve a block when dosing for cesarean section. Data were analyzed by chi-square testing.



A total of 752 patients requested epidural analgesia during the study period. Of these patients, 296 (39%) received epidural analgesia and 456 (61%) received CSE. Labor epidurals were initially dosed with 0.25% bupivacaine, followed by an infusion of 0.125% bupivacaine plus fentanyl. CSE was performed with a standard epidural needle and 26g Gertie Marx needle® (IMD, Utah), with subarachnoid administration of 10 mcg of sufentanil.
Of the parameters examined, there was a statistically significant difference between groups only in regards to wet taps and higher than anticipated blocks. Statistically fewer patients in the CSE group experienced accidental dural punctures and more patients in the CSE group had a T4 block after administration of less than 12 ml of local anesthetic.



Our data suggests that CSE is as safe as epidural anesthesia for pain relief in laboring patients. There were no major complications and minor complications, other than pruritis, were not statistically different between epidural and CSE groups. CSE may be protective against accidental dural punctures by allowing an extra method of verification of needle location. Since less local anesthetic may be required to provide a T4 block in CSE patients, caution is necessary when supplementing the epidural catheter for an operative delivery if CSE has been performed.



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