Atraumatic versus conventional lumbar puncture needles: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Nath et al, The Lancet March 2018 

Summary

Background

Atraumatic needles have been proposed to lower complication rates after lumbar puncture. However, several surveys indicate that clinical adoption of these needles remains poor. We did a systematic review and meta-analysis to compare patient outcomes after lumbar puncture with atraumatic needles and conventional needles.

Findings

We identified 20 241 reports; after exclusions, 110 trials done between 1989 and 2017 from 29 countries, including a total of 31 412 participants, were eligible for analysis. The incidence of postdural-puncture headache was significantly reduced from 11·0% (95% CI 9·1–13·3) in the conventional needle group to 4·2% (3·3–5·2) in the atraumatic group

Interpretation

Among patients who had lumbar puncture, atraumatic needles were associated with a decrease in the incidence of postdural-puncture headache and in the need for patients to return to hospital for additional therapy, and had similar efficacy to conventional needles. These findings offer clinicians and stakeholders a comprehensive assessment and high-quality evidence for the safety and efficacy of atraumatic needles as a superior option for patients who require lumbar puncture.