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Comparison of Double-Hole and Single-Hole Pencil-Point Needles for Spinal Anesthesia With Hyperbaric Bupivacaine
  1. Risto Puolakka, M.D.,
  2. Juhani Haasio, M.D., Ph.D.,
  3. Per H. Rosenberg, M.D., Ph.D. and
  4. Marjatta Tuominen, M.D., Ph.D.
  1. From the Department of Anaesthesiology, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Töölö Hospital, Helsinki, Finland.
  1. Reprint requests: Risto Puolakka, M.D., Department of Anaesthesiology, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Töölö Hospital, Topeliuksenkatu 5, FIN-00260 Helsinki, Finland.


Background and Objectives The use of thin single-hole pencil-point (SHPP) spinal needles may be a reason for subarachnoid maldistribution of local anesthetic. A new double-hole pencil-point (DHPP) needle may be preferable because of a theoretic more uniform initial distribution of local anesthetic.

Methods This was a prospective, double-blinded study of 50 patients randomly selected to have spinal anesthesia using either single-hole 27-gauge (B. Braun, Melsungen, Germany) or double-hole 26-gauge (A.L.B. Medical Inc., U.S.A.) pencil-point needles. The former were inserted with the side port directed caudally and the latter with openings in both caudal and cranial direction. Two milliliters of hyperbaric 0.5% bupivacaine were injected in 1 minute, and sensory and motor block were studied at regular intervals during spinal anesthesia. All patients were interviewed on the first (personal) and the seventh (mailed questionnaire) postoperative day. Furthermore, microscopic inspection of the spinal needles was performed.

Results There were no statistically significant differences in sensory or motor block levels between the two needle types at any time during spinal anesthesia. Likewise, there was no difference in the duration of spinal block. The postanesthetic side effects (headache, backache, pricking, numbness, weakness) were similar in both groups. Light and electron microscopic examination showed resistance of the SHPP needles to tip damage. On the other hand, the DHPP needle tips seemed to be distorted quite frequently, and, even in unused needles, the tip was blunt and asymmetric.

Conclusion There was no difference between the spread of analgesia using either SHPP or DHPP spinal needles. The DHPP needles appear to be vulnerable to tip damage from mechanical contact.

  • spinal anesthesia
  • maldistribution
  • double-hole spinal needle
  • needle damage.

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  • This study was presented at the Annual Congress of the European Society of Regional Anesthesia, London, September 18, 1997.