top of page

Avoiding a Wet Tap During Epidural Anesthesia

A dural puncture, sometimes referred to as a wet tap, is caused when an epidural needle punctures the dura and causes spinal fluid to leak. While an accidental dura puncture only happens during 1-2% of procedures, up to 80% of patients develop a post-dural puncture headache (PDPH) after sustaining a wet tap. Considering the number of people who receive epidurals each day, 1-2% is a rather sizable number.

Even the most experienced anesthesiologists will admit to an accidental wet tap from time to time. And while it is true that not every patient will suffer from PDPH following a wet tap, the likelihood is high enough. The 60-80% of patients who develop PDPH will need to seek treatment to alleviate symptoms. As such, avoiding wet taps, or unintentional dural punctures, is paramount to achieving optimal patients care.

Another concerning outcome of wet taps lies in the emerging data surrounding unintentional dural punctures and long-term symptoms. The most commonly known result of a wet tap is a severe acute positional headache. But what about long-term symptoms? New trials and research all seem to shed light on long-term consequences. Both headaches and back pain have been noted to impact patients as far as 18 months after dura puncture.

Epidural anesthesia is meant to offer pain relief during labor, but new moms have been dealing with PDPH all too often. Whether a patient experiences long-term or short-term symptoms, it’s time that obstetric anesthesia, as an industry, re-evaluates the way in which they aim to reduce and prevent the occurrence of PDPH.

So, what now? How can physicians make changes to avoid an inadvertent dural puncture? Well, the answer may actually be less about technique and more about equipment.

Epidural Anesthesia with Gertie Marx Combined Spinal Epidural Sets

Medical institution and patient standards have risen to new heights and the standard of care expectations will only continue to grow. This places even greater emphasis on the importance of quality care, enhanced training, and superior equipment. Patients have come to expect, and demand, a nearly flawless experience, adding even more pressure to the medical care team.

Planning for labor and delivery involves due diligence in seeking medical providers and a hospital that will take excellent care of the patient. But let’s face it, when a woman goes into labor an epidural is often the first thing on her mind. A pregnant woman would never imagine that an epidural could lead to PDPH, something no one with a newborn would want to endure. As such, more and more physicians have come to depend on Gertie Marx Combined Spinal Epidural Sets.

Combined spinal epidural anesthesia plays a critical role for anesthesiologists to not only provide better patient care, but to do so in a way that minimizes risk. Physicians across the globe have touted the superiority of CSE compared to epidural anesthesia. Some of the most important reasons for the preference for the CSE technique include:

  • Reduce the likelihood of PDPH occurrence

  • Faster onset, typically saving 15-20 minutes

  • Much lower failure rate

  • A more intense motor block

The Gertie Marx atraumatic spinal needle is the only needle on the market that is engineered to be anatomically correct, resulting in superior clinical results. Under Gertie Marx’s supervision & guidance, these needle specifications were designed to have the Gertie Marx needle fit perfectly into the subarachnoid space. These are the spinal needle physicians should be using for best clinical results for both the physician and patient.

Goodbye Wet Taps, Hello Gertie Marx Spinal Needles

Why risk PDPH? Gertie Marx needles are the only spinal needles proven to reduce the occurrence of PDPH to less than 1%.

For more than 30 years IMD Corp has proudly supplied medical institutions with our product lines, as we work hand in hand with doctors across the globe.

Are needle shortages affecting your hospital? We ship within 24 hours. No back orders. Send us an email at or call directly at (914) 523-3797.


bottom of page