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Research Mentor Name

Dr. James Paxton, MD

Research Mentor Email Address


Institution / Department

Detroit Medical Center Department of Emergency Medicine

Document Type

Research Abstract

Research Type


Level of Research




Intraosseous (IO) catheters are commonly used to rapidly obtain vascular access for critically-ill patients in the emergency department (ED). While the sternum is a common IO insertion site for adult subjects, little is known about sex-based variation in the proper depth of insertion.


A retrospective cohort study was performed, utilizing CT scans obtained from DMC over a ten-year period (2009-2018) to estimate soft tissue depth overlying the recommended sternal IO insertion site. Depths of soft tissue from skin surface to bone surface (Measurement A) and from skin surface to the opposite bony cortex (Measurement B) were measured using standard radiologic software.


Our data includes 32 male and 21 female subjects with a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 25. Measurement A for males (x̄=17.89 mm, σ=8.91) was significantly larger than for females (x̄=12.98 mm, σ=5.96) (p=0.0308). Sternal diameter (Measurement B-Measurement A) was also significantly larger in males (x̄=17.15 mm, σ=5.06) compared to females (x̄=13.75 mm, σ=4.20) (p=0.0138). Measurement A was ≤25-mm in 78% of males and 90% of females.


Our results suggest that sex-based differences exist in soft tissue depth and bone diameter at the sternal site, despite similar BMI values. Since common IO needle lengths are 25-mm and 45-mm, these results suggest that 25-mm needles are sufficient for most patients in this BMI category; however, 22% of males and 10% of females studied would have required the longer 45-mm needle. Future studies with larger cohorts are needed to further validate these findings.


Emergency Medicine | Medicine and Health Sciences