Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Ultrasound-guided spinal anesthesia in infants: a narrative review
  1. Paola Baskin1,
  2. Charles Berde1,
  3. Arjun Saravanan1 and
  4. Walid Alrayashi1,2
  1. 1 Department of Anesthesiology Critical Care and Pain Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2 Department of Anaesthesia, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Paola Baskin, Anesthesiology, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; paola.baskin{at}


Background/importance Infant spinal anesthesia has many potential benefits. However, the delivery of infant spinal anesthesia is technically challenging. The landmark-based technique has not changed for over a century. Advancements in ultrasound technology may provide an opportunity to improve infant spinal procedures.

Objective Our primary objective is to conduct a comprehensive review of the current literature on ultrasonography for spinal anesthesia in infants. Given the narrow scope of this topic, our secondary objective is to review the current literature on ultrasonography for lumbar puncture in infants.

Evidence review We reviewed all papers related to the use of ultrasound for infant spinal anesthesia. Two large databases were searched with key terms. Eligibility criteria were full-text articles in English. For our secondary objective, we searched one large database for key terms relating to ultrasonography and infant lumbar puncture. Eligibility criteria were the same.

Findings Our primary search retrieved six articles. These consisted of four review articles, one case report, and one retrospective observational study. Our secondary search retrieved fourteen articles. These consisted of five randomized control trials, four prospective studies, three retrospective studies, and two review papers.

Conclusions Ultrasound yields high-quality images of the infant spine. Most literature regarding ultrasound for infant spinal procedures arises from emergency medicine or interventional radiology specialties. The literature on ultrasound for infant spinal anesthesia is extremely limited, but shows promise. Future studies are needed in order to determine whether ultrasound can improve the success rate for delivery of infant spinal anesthesia.

  • Injections, Spinal
  • Pediatrics
  • Ultrasonography

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.


  • Contributors All authors contributed meaningfully to this project.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests PB has no competing interests. WA has no competing interests. CB has no competing interests. AS has no competing interests.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.