The tensile strengths of 12 commercially available brands of epidural catheters were assessed using an Instron material testing device. The mean values of the tensile strengths ranged from 1.89 to 3.74 kilogram force. The extent of catheter occlusion due to kinking was also studied using an in vitro apparatus designed to simulate drug delivery at various degrees of flow restriction. It was determined that reinforced catheters were less likely to be occluded secondary to kinking.
In the current era of increasing economic and medicolegal pressures, it is imperative that equipment-related limitations and complications be reduced to a minimum. Epidural catheter breakage can result in the inconvenience of surgical extraction of catheter fragments, while kinking can lead to impairment or failure of drug delivery to the patient.
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