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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Incidence and predictors of immediate complications following perioperative non-obstetric epidural punctures

Andreas Meyer-Bender1, Andrea Kern1, Bernhard Pollwein1, Alexander Crispin2 and Philip M Lang1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Anaesthesiology, University Hospital of Munich, Marchioninistr. 15, 81377, Munich, Germany

2 Department of Medical Informatics, Biometry, and Epidemiology, Ludwig Maximilians University Munich, Munich, Germany

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BMC Anesthesiology 2012, 12:31  doi:10.1186/1471-2253-12-31

Published: 10 December 2012

Abstract

Background

Epidural Anesthesia (EA) is a well-established procedure. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the incidence of immediate complications following epidural puncture, such as sanguineous puncture, accidental dural perforation, unsuccessful catheter placement or insufficient analgesia and to identify patient and maneuver related risk factors.

Methods

A total of 7958 non-obstetrical EA were analyzed. The risk of each complication was calculated according to the preconditions and the level of puncture. For probabilistic evaluation we used a logistic regression model with forward selection.

Results

The risk of sanguineous puncture (n = 247, 3.1%) increases with both the patient’s age (P = 0.013) and the more caudal the approach (P < 0.01). Dural perforation (n = 123, 1.6%) was found to be influenced only by advanced age (P = 0.019). Unsuccessful catheter placement (n = 68, 0.94%) occurred more often in smaller individuals (P < 0.001) and at lower lumbar sites (P < 0.01). Amongst all cases with successful catheter placement a (partial) insufficient analgesia was found in 692 cases (8.8%). This risk of insufficient analgesia decreased with patient’s age (P <0 .01), being least likely for punctures of the lower thoracic spine (P < 0.001).

Conclusions

Compared to more cranial levels, EA of the lower spine is associated with an increased risk of sanguineous and unsuccessful puncture. Insufficient analgesia more often accompanies high thoracic and low lumbar approaches. The risk of a sanguineous puncture increases in elderly patients. Gender, weight and body mass index seem to have no influence on the investigated complications.