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Estimation of the depth of the thoracic epidural space in children using magnetic resonance imaging

Authors Wani TM, Rafiq M, Nazir A, Azzam HA, Al Zuraigi U, Tobias JD

Received 7 October 2016

Accepted for publication 18 February 2017

Published 28 March 2017 Volume 2017:10 Pages 757—762


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor E Alfonso Romero-Sandoval

Tariq M Wani,1,2 Mahmood Rafiq,1 Arif Nazir,1 Hatem A Azzam,1 Usama Al Zuraigi,1 Joseph D Tobias2

1Department of Anesthesia, King Fahad Medical City, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; 2Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, OH, USA

Background: The estimation of the distance from the skin to the thoracic epidural space or skin to epidural depth (SED) may increase the success rate and decrease the incidence of complications during placement of a thoracic epidural catheter. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the most comprehensive imaging modality of the spine, allowing for the accurate determination of tissue spaces and distances. The present study uses MRI-derived measurements to measure the SED and define the ratio between the straight and inclined SEDs at two thoracic levels (T6–7 and T9–10) in children.
Methods: The T2-weighed sagittal MRI images of 109 children, ranging in age from 1 month to 8 years, undergoing radiological evaluation unrelated to spine pathology were assessed. The SEDs (inclined and straight) were determined, and a comparison between the SEDs at two thoracic levels (T6–7 and T9–10) was made. Univariate and multivariate linear regression models were used to assess the relationship of the inclined thoracic T6–7 and T9–10 SED measurements with age, height, and weight.
Results: Body weight demonstrated a stronger association with the SED than did the age or height with R2 values of 0.6 for T6–7 and 0.5 for T9–10. The formulae describing the relationship between the weight and the inclined SED were T6–7 inclined (mm) = 7 + 0.9 × kg and T9–10 inclined (mm) = 7 + 0.8 × kg.
Conclusion: The depth of the pediatric thoracic epidural space shows a stronger correlation with weight than with age or height. Based on the MRI data, the predictive weight-based formulas can serve as guide to clinicians for placement of thoracic epidural catheters.

Keywords: thoracic epidural space, magnetic resonance imaging, measurement techniques

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