A Huber Needle is a hollow needle with a long beveled , sharp, directional needle tip which is designed by a dentist Dr. Ralph L. Huber and refined afterwards by an anesthesiologist Dr. Edward B. Tuohy to be used in spinal catheter .
The Huber Needle is an alternative to other delivery systems used for infusion as they are used with patients that need repeated vascular access and fluid therapy for long term, and is specially designed to be used with implanted ports.
Port systems has many uses as blood withdraw, medication infusion, parenteral nutritional solutions, blood products and imaging solutions.The implanted port systems is composed of two parts :
- The injection port with a septum that is self sealing .
- A radiopaque catheter that extends above S.V.C for faster dilution and a more effective flow into patient’s circulatory system .
To appreciate the Huber invention and why it is important to vascular access port users, a short discussion of needle point geometry & style may be helpful. The term bevel refers to the angle surface formed on the needle shaft when sharpened to make the needle point. Bevel length is the longest distance of the bevel measured from the tip of the needle to the most proximate area of the grinding behind the heel.
- An “A” bevel needle has the longest and sharpest point & is used in blood collection as it slides through the skin very easily. The tip is very delicate & can easily be deflected or damaged.
- A “C” bevel needle does not have a sharp point, & is therefore sturdier & less delicate. It is used in applications such as piercing a rubber stopper.
- The “B” bevel needle has characteristics in-between the A & C bevels being relatively sturdy & sharp.
Non-coring Huber style needles are “B” bevelled needles with a relatively sharp point. The heel is sandblasted to minimize coring & the point/tip is deflected – the tip is raised above the center line to minimize contact with the tissue or media.
How Huber Needle Work
The Huber Needle is inserted to pass through the implanted port septum and into the port reservoir, then the fluid is inserted to flow from the reservoir through the catheter which then finally enters into the patient’s vascular system.
How The Huber Point Preserves The Septum
When you access the silicone septum of the port with a Huber needle, a plug of silicone is not cut from the septum as happens with a standard hypodermic needle. The angle of the “B” bevel Huber causes a parting of the silicone septum as the needle enters the septum. Because the septum is fitted into the port under pressure, it closes up around the needle. Once the needle is removed you see only an impression of where the needle entered, no hole is made. Accessing the septum with a regular needle on a regular basis will result in a loss of integrity of the septum and leakage.
Huber Needle Risks
One of the common drawbacks of this type of needle is the high rate of needle stick injuries, it usually happens during the withdrawn of the needle from the implanted port system. As the port systems needs to be stabilized with one hand and the needle is taken out with the other hand, but due to the need of force to overcome the resistance of the elastic septum rebound effect occurs , this accounts for the majority of the Huber needle stick injuries. This very dangerous because ports mostly provide the venous access for patients with Hepatitis B and AIDS.
Variety of Huber needles
Huber needles comes in many varieties because of the importance of this needle, several sizes are found which is measured by gauges (it includes 19, 20, 22, 24, 25), these numbers stands for the needle diameter, The higher the gauge, The smaller the Needle. Also Huber needles are color coded for each of its length which come in sizes 0.5 inches to 1.5 inches to make finding the right size easier. The Huber needle can be straight or curved which each has a different use.
- Straight Huber Needle : Used for flushing out ports and catheters – administering injections – any short term applications.
- Curved Huber Needle : it is designed to be left in the implanted port for several days, they are Used for administering nutritional fluids, chemotherapy fluids and medications as antibiotics.
Huber Needle Uses
Huber needles are designed in a way to make hospital treatment processes ( such as cancer treatment ) more easy, the needle enters the port through the silicone septum without causing an damages neither the septum nor the tissues, The main feature of the huber needle its ability to remain in the port for several hours to days, soo frequent treatments needed for the patient is done with minimum pain to the patient ( considering choosing the right gauge and length ). Huber needle has many uses which we will mention some :
- Blood Draw : During patients stay in hospital blood is necessarily needed to be tested and taken from the patient not once but several times which used to cause vein collapse. But the Huber needle can remain in the port which is implanted in the body for several days saving the patient from these several punctures.
- Chemotherapy : Cancer causes tissues and cells extremely exposed to damage, this is a major problems because cancer patients treatment needs many needle insertion as well as taking medications for curing but skin can’t tolerate. Huber needle needs only once to be inserted and left behind which is already connected to a catheter line through the silicone septum port which extends to a main vein ( usually superior vena cava ).
- Medication administration : Best feature as we mentioned earlier is that Huber needles can be left in the implanted port for several days so patients needing frequent treatment benefit from this , Using the needle during dialysis, fluid intake, medication administration and blood transfusion without having to be pricked each time making the patient life much easier.