To the Editor:-The practice of anesthesia requires the performance of many invasive procedures under sterile conditions, e.g., the cannulation of a central vein and the placement of caudal stimulating catheters. In a teaching institution, a trainee learns to accomplish these procedures under the supervision and guidance of the attending physicians. Identification of the correct entry point and the direction of the needle advancement are of pivotal importance for completing these procedures. Verbal communication sometimes may not adequately provide the guidance. A pair of sterile gloves and sometimes a thorough hand scrub and sterile gown may be required for the attending anesthesiologist to enter the sterile field and help to identify the correct needle entry point, although this is not always feasible, or sometimes, possible.

We have found that a pen-size laser pointer can help save time and expenses. From a safe distance, the correct entry point in the sterile field and the path of the needle can be precisely pinpointed and prescribed with a laser pointer.

During general anesthesia, care should be taken not to shine the laser light directly into patients' eyes.

Gabor B. Racz, M.D.

Y. James Kao, Ph.D., M.D.

Department of Anesthesiology; Texas Tech University Health Science Center; Lubbock, Texas

(Accepted for publication September 8, 1997.)