Lumbar puncture, also called a spinal tap, is a procedure
in which the spinal fluid surrounding the spinal cord is withdrawn through a needle placed in the lumbar spine (or lower back)
and examined in a laboratory. The procedure will be performed by a physician trained
in the use of X-ray equipment, called fluoroscopic equipment, which allows the doctor to view the needle as it is placed into
the spinal canal.
Preregister at the hospital.
A nurse from the hospital will call you to discuss the procedure.
You must make arrangements for someone who is 21 y/o or older to drive you to and from the test.
DO NOT take aspirin, dipyridamole, clopidogrel, warfarin, apixaban, rivaroxaban, or dabigatran
within 7 days prior to the test. These medications are often referred to as “blood thinners”.
DO continue to take all of your other medications as prescribed by your physicians.
DO NOT consume any alcohol for at least 24 hours prior to the test.
your usual dose of insulin and eat a light meal at least two hours before the procedure.
DO NOT eat or drink anything two hours before the procedure.
Bring an updated list of your current medications and allergies to the hospital.
Bring your identification card and all insurance cards to the hospital.
DO NOT bring valuables to the hospital, e.g., jewelry, electronic devices, etc.
AT THE HOSPITAL
Report to the
hospital on time.
Tell the staff immediately if you are pregnant or
think you may be pregnant.
During the procedure, the radiologist and technologist
will be in the room with you.
You will wear a hospital gown during the examination.
You will either lie on your side with your knees drawn as close
to your chest as possible and your chin toward your chest; or lie on your stomach with a small pillow beneath your lower abdomen.
Your back will be cleaned with an antiseptic and sterile drapes
will be placed around the area.
A local anesthetic will be injected into the area
on your back. You may feel a slight burning sensation.
A hollow needle
is inserted in the lower back. This sometimes causes a sensation of pressure in the lower back.
The spinal canal is penetrated and fluid is collected. The spinal cord is not touched by the needle.
The needle is removed after the fluid is obtained. The area will be cleaned and covered with a small bandage.
You may be instructed to lie on your back or stomach for about
an hour in Radiology Recovery.
A blood sample will be taken from your arm and tested, along with the spinal fluid, in
Before discharge, the Radiology nurse will go over written postop instructions. Please
follow these at home.
AFTER THE TEST
drive for 12 hours after the test.
Remain flat on
your back as much as possible for 24 hours after the test.
Drink at least
2 ½ quarts (10 cups) of fluids in the first 24 hours after the test.
If you were taking blood thinners prior to the test, start taking them again.
Notify the Radiology
Department if you experience any drainage from the puncture site, fever, stiff neck or headache not resolved by lying down.
Post LP headache or “spinal headache” is a headache which occurs when sitting or standing after a lumbar
puncture. This type of headache is caused by leaking of spinal fluid into the soft tissues of the lower
back. It always resolves after lying down. If you develop a spinal headache, lay down
for several more hours and drink more fluid. If you are unable to stand due to spinal headache at 48-72
hours after the lumbar puncture, please notify CNS and you will be referred to an anesthesiologist for a “blood patch”.
In this procedure, some blood is drawn from your arm and injected into the tissues at the lumbar puncture site to act
as a pressure dressing in order to stop the spinal fluid leak.
If you do not have a spinal headache, you can resume normal activities in 24 hours.
The test results will be sent to the CNS doctor who will discuss the results at your follow up visit.