Confirmation of Caudal Needle Placement Using Nerve Stimulation

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The study was designed to examine a new method of confirming proper caudal needle placement using nerve stimulation.


Thirty-two pediatric patients were studied. A 22-gauge insulated needle was inserted into the caudal canal via the sacral notch until a "pop" was felt. The needle placement was classified as correct or incorrect depending upon the presence or absence of anal sphincter contraction (S2-S4) to electrical simulation (1 to 10 mA).


Three patients were excluded, two because they inadvertently received neuromuscular blockers and one because the patient's anatomy precluded any attempt at a caudal block. The sensitivity and specificity of the test were both 100% in predicting clinical outcomes of the caudal block. Six patients had a negative stimulation test after the first attempt to place the needle. Four of these went on to receive a second attempt of needle insertion after a subcutaneous bulge or resistance to local anesthetic injection were observed. Following needle reinsertion, positive stimulation tests were elicited. These patients received the local anesthetic injection with ease and had good analgesia postoperatively. No attempt was made to reinsert the needle in the remaining two patients with a negative stimulation test, as they did not show subcutaneous bulge or resistance upon injection. These patients had poor analgesia postoperatively. The positive predictive value of the test was greater than the presence of a "pop" alone (P < 0.05) but not significantly different (P = 0.492) over the presence of "pop" and easy injection.


This test may be used as a teaching and adjuvant tool in performing caudal block.

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