Pain, Position, and Stylet Styles: Infant Lumbar Puncture Practices of Pediatric Emergency Attending Physicians

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Abstract

Objectives:

Lumbar punctures (LPs) are common emergency department (ED) procedures. Few pediatric studies exist to define training, guide practice, or indicate preferred methods for infants. While pain control is recommended, no recent studies indicate prevalence of analgesic use since the advent of topical anesthetics. We surveyed academic pediatric ED physicians to assess training and technique preferences and to highlight pain control usage.

Methods:

A total of 398 physicians were randomly selected from the 621 e-mail accessible members of the AAP Section on Pediatric Emergency Medicine. Questions concerning physician training, analgesia, and technique were either sent by regular mail or via e-mail link to a Web-based survey.

Results:

Of 359 deliverable surveys, there were 188 physician responses (52.4%) with differential response rates by survey format [58 e-mail (36%) and 130 regular mail responses (66%); P < 0.05]. Almost a third will advance the needle without the stylet in place. Two-thirds of physicians do not routinely use analgesia for neonatal LPs. Those using pain control were trained more recently (median 12 years vs. 15 years postresidency; P = 0.04). Analgesia use was the most common practice changed since residency.

Conclusions:

Analgesia is underused for infant LPs. Advancing the needle without a stylet is not uncommon. Response rate to regular mail surveys was much higher.

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