Emergency physicians can easily obtain ultrasound images of anatomical landmarks relevant to lumbar puncture*

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Although ultrasound has been used in administering epidural anesthesia, it is unknown if emergency physicians (EPs) can obtain ultrasound images useful for lumbar puncture.


The objective of the study was to determine EPs' ability to apply a standardized ultrasound technique for visualizing landmarks surrounding the dural space.


Two EPs sought to identify relevant anatomy in emergency patients. Visualization time for 5 anatomical structures (spinous processes or laminae, ligamentum flavum, dura mater, epidural space, subarachnoid space), body mass index, and perception of landmark palpation difficulty were recorded.


Seventy-six subjects were enrolled. Soft tissue and bony anatomical structures were identified in all subjects. Mean body mass index was 31.4 ± 9.8 (95% confidence interval, 29.1–33.6). High-quality images were obtained in less than 1 minute in 153 (87.9%) scans and in less than 5 minutes in 174 (100%) scans. Mean acquisition time was 57.19 seconds; SD, 68.14 seconds; range, 10 to 300 seconds.


In this cohort, EPs were able to rapidly obtain high-quality ultrasound images relevant to lumbar puncture.

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