Lumbar puncture is a frequently undertaken procedure in Neurology and Acute Medical settings. It can at times be challenging requiring several attempts causing patient discomfort and anxiety.
Ultrasound assisted Lumbar Puncture/Epidurals are currently undertaken by Anaesthetists trained in the technique but not by Neurologists or Medical Physicians in the United Kingdom.
Our goal was to train non-Anaesthetic doctors to use ultrasound to assist lumbar punctures through a short training course. The Sonography Assisted Lumbar puncture Training (SALT) course was conducted at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS trust which consisted of 80 minutes of didactic teaching and 160 minutes of supervised scanning.
A total of 31 candidates of which 35.48% (n=11) were Neurology trainees and consultants undertook this course. The end of course assessment revealed that 87.09% were able to stabilize the probe and optimize the ultrasound image independently, whereas 93.54% were able to identify the relevant sonoanatomy independently. The remaining candidates demonstrated these skills with minimal prompting.
Ultrasound assisted lumbar puncture is a useful technique, which improves the success rate in difficult lumbar punctures. This study shows that it can be taught in a controlled environment through a focussed short training programme.