To investigate whether it would be safe to extend the currently recommended area of sampling to the whole heel in neonates.Methods
Eighty newborn infants were studied, weight range 0.56 to 4.34 kg, gestation 24 to 42 weeks. Ultrasound scanning was used to measure the shortest distance between the skin and the perichondrium of the calcaneum.Results
The shortest depth of perichondrium was in the centre of the heel and ranged from 3 to 8 mm. In 78 of the 80 infants the distance was 4 mm or more. There was a small but significant positive correlation with weight.Conclusions
Standard automated lancets for preterm use that puncture to a depth of 2.4 mm may be safely used anywhere over the plantar surface of the heel. The posterior aspect of the heel should be avoided. Reducing the density of heel pricks should reduce the associated pain.