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Lumbar puncture, sometimes called spinal tap, is a procedure performed in your lumbar region (lower back). It involves removing a sample of cerebrospinal fluid—the fluid that surrounds your brain and spinal cord to protect them from injury. A lumbar puncture can help diagnose serious infections, disorders of the central nervous system such as multiple sclerosis, or cancers of the brain or spinal cord. Sometimes doctors use lumbar puncture to inject chemotherapy drugs into the cerebrospinal fluid.


Lumbar puncture procedure


During a lumbar puncture, you will lie face down on a procedure table, and after administration of local anesthesia, a thin needle is inserted between two lumbar bones (vertebrae) to remove a sample of cerebrospinal fluid. The procedure is generally performed with local anesthesia and well tolerated by the vast majority of patients. Expected procedural time is 15-30 minutes, though this varies based on patient anatomy, prior surgery, and the amount of fluid which needs to be collected. Patients can be sent home 1-2 hours after the procedure if performed on an outpatient basis.


What are the associated risks and complications?


Spinal headache occurs in approximately 5% of patients who undergo lumbar puncture.  It results from leakage of the cerebrospinal fluid resulting in a positional headache. It often resolves with conservative measures such as bed rest, though may occasionally require a procedure called an epidural blood patch to help relieve symptoms. As with any procedure, risks such as bleeding or infection at the procedure site can occur. Additional risks of the procedure will be discussed by the performing radiologist and nursing staff prior to the procedure.

Doctors performing Lumbar puncture

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