Article Text

Download PDFPDF
The Injection of Intrathecal Normal Saline Reduces the Severity of Postdural Puncture Headache
  1. Margaret M. Charsley, M.D. and
  2. Stephen E. Abram, M.D.
  1. From Albuquerque Veterans Administration Hospital (S.E.A.), Albuquerque, New Mexico; and the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, University of New Mexico School of Medicine (M.M.C., S.E.A.), Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  1. Reprint requests: Stephen E. Abram, M.D., Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Surge Building, 2701 Frontier NE, Albuquerque, NM 87131-5216. E-mail: sabram{at}


Background and Objectives We investigated whether the injection of 10 mL of normal saline into the subarachnoid space following accidental dural puncture reduced the incidence of postdural puncture headache (PDPH) and the need for epidural blood patch (EBP).

Methods Twenty-eight patients who experienced accidental dural puncture with an epidural needle had 10 mL of normal saline injected into the subarachnoid space. In 22 patients, the injection was performed immediately through the epidural needle. In 6 patients who had intrathecal catheters placed through the epidural needle, the saline was injected through the catheter before removal. All other patients who experienced wet taps during the same period that the study was in progress but did not receive the saline injection served as a control group, 26 in number. Patients with severe or persistent PDPHs were treated with EBP.

Results Of those patients who received intrathecal normal saline immediately through the epidural needle, 32% developed a headache compared with 62% of controls. Of these, 1 patient who received saline required EBP compared with nine in the control group (P = .004). Of those patients who had intrathecal catheters placed, there were no headaches in the saline group of 6 compared with 3 in the control group of 5, 1 of whom was treated with EBP (P > .05).

Conclusions The immediate injection of 10 mL intrathecal normal saline after a wet tap significantly reduced the incidence of PDPH and the need for EBP. When an intrathecal catheter had been placed following a wet tap, injection of 10 mL of normal saline before its removal effectively prevented PDPH.

  • Postdural puncture headache
  • Intrathecal normal saline injection
  • Wet tap
  • Epidural blood patch

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.