H.2 Lumbar puncture body brace
A lumbar puncture (also know as a spinal tap) is an essential and highly utilized procedure where a needle is inserted through a patient’s back into the spinal canal to sample cerebral spinal fluid. It is commonly performed at bedside, and used to assess for a multitude of pathology, including infection, malignancy, auto-immune disorders, and brain hemorrhage. In some instances, it can be life saving and needs to be performed emergently.
Patient positioning (in the fetal position) is the most critical aspect in ensuring a successful lumbar puncture, but this most often relies on patient cooperation to lie in the optimal position with minimal movement. Ironically, most patients in whom a lumbar puncture is needed, are often confused/altered, and cannot reliably participate with the procedure. In these scenarios, there are two options.
The first option is for another healthcare worker to assist with positioning througout the duration of the procedure, but in a true hospital setting, personnel is rarely available. The reality is that these patient’s are usually referred to the operating room days later to obtain a lumbar puncture under sedation with x-ray guidance, costing thousands of dollars, and delaying critical medical care. If a mechanical device (body brace, straps with cushions, etc) could be developed that would hold a patient in proper position, it would undoubtely increase success of bedside lumbar punctures and save significant financial resources as well as improve patient outcomes. This device could also be used in the operating room and increase lumbar puncture success there as well.
To my knowledge, there are no current products similar to this on the market. A device similar to this would likely be fast to develop, inexpensive to manufacture, have low regulatory hurdles to overcome, and could offer significant cost savings to hospitals nationwide.