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.
Antoine Ventejou, 22 years old, extern at Strasbourg University Hospitals
I performed my first lumbar puncture during my internship in inflammatory neurology in Strasbourg during my 5th year of medical studies. I couldn’t benefit from a training session on a simulator before my first puncture because I was part of the “control” group of a clinical study aiming at comparing the performance between students who had been able to train on a simulator and students without prior training.
Before the puncture, I was a little stressed which seems normal to me, but the intern who accompanied me had already shown me the procedure several times and she knew how to put me at ease. The patient was quite stressed because she had had a bad experience before, and the pathology she suffers from requires depletive lumbar punctures (evacuation of excessive cerebrospinal fluid) quite regularly. When I introduced the needle, she let out a cry of fear which made me jump but I was able to continue after a few seconds of pause and the rest went well. The patient didn’t seem to be in too much pain, and the puncture was a success.
I think that before performing your first puncture, it is necessary to have seen the procedure several times in order to be comfortable with the preparation of the gesture and then the puncture itself. Generally, an intern is with you at the beginning, to answer your questions, and help you if need, then you quickly become independent.
Any last advice?
Relax as much as possible, put the patient at ease, and everything will be fine.