Thursday, November 11, 2004

Need a Needle?

If you feel like I do about needles, you may want to check out the new J-Tip, which delivers medication without a needle. The article is a little vague about how the medicine gets from the syringe to the subcutaneous (i.e. below-skin) tissue. It reminds me of Philippine psychic surgery in reverse. And with a syringe instead of bare hands. But, hey, if you can give me medicine with out “a little poke and a burn,” please do.

The relevance here is its possible use in numbing up the skin before administering an epidural. I’ve had clients who wanted to avoid an epidural at all costs because there was no way they were going to let someone stick a needle into their back. It might be easier for them to contemplate (not that I’m pushing epidurals here) if they could be assured they wouldn’t feel the big, HUGE epidural needle go in.

And for any woman who’s ever had a misplaced epidural, it looks like help is around the corner. Well, not for the women who’ve already had a misplaced epidural. We can’t rewrite history and provide better pain relief or restore sensation or movement where they’re now numb or paralyzed. But in the future, perhaps, computer aided assessment of when the needle has in fact reached the epidural space will prevent these inconveniences and injuries. According to this press release (from the device’s manufacturer, so let’s acknowledge the bias), epidural placement is presently assessed by the anesthesiologist’s using her thumb to sense a change in pressure. And therein lies the art of anesthesia.

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