Lumbar puncture is a very common and invasive medical procedure. It is potentially painful and provokes anxiety for both the patient and the doctor. Medical students learn to perform this gesture by practicing directly on the patient and even today, about 1 in 2 students miss their first lumbar puncture.
InSimo invites you to discover the testimony of doctors and students, who dive back in the memory of their first lumbar puncture and tell us more about this key moment in their training.
Fanny Schranz, 24 years old, extern at Strasbourg University Hospitals
I am in my 6th year of medical studies. I performed my first lumbar puncture a few weeks ago, in the rheumatology department in Strasbourg. I had never been able to train on a simulator before this first puncture, and I was a little stressed as before any gesture. I had sweaty palms and had trouble putting on my gloves! Despite everything, I felt confident since the intern supervising me was next to me, and I like to perform medical procedures. Besides, I succeeded in this first puncture.
It was also the first puncture for the patient, but he was quite confident. He didn’t particularly panic, and didn’t hurt too much during the procedure. He didn’t flinch at all when I inserted the needle, just a little “ouch” when I started. It was quite reassuring for me because there were no screams or sudden movements, which allowed me to stay focused on my gesture while remaining in my bubble.
To improve the training, it is imperative that each student be able to attend at least one puncture before doing one. You have to train to locate the landmarks on a patient, and not hesitate to ask for help. And of course, you have to practice the gesture beforehand if possible, on a simulator or model. The ideal is to be able to repeat all the practical aspects of the procedure (disinfection, putting on sterile gloves, pricking the patient, filling the tubes, etc.), so that the sequence of gestures is more fluid thereafter.
Any last advice?
Don’t stress too much, don’t hesitate to ask your intern to guide you, and don’t panic if you don’t get it right the first time! You can repeat it several times.