A lumbar puncture, also known as a spinal tap, is a procedure in which a needle is inserted into the lower part of the spine (the lumbar region) to collect cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CSF is the fluid that surrounds your brain and spinal cord, and testing it can help doctors diagnose conditions such as meningitis, multiple sclerosis, or certain types of cancer. While the idea of a lumbar puncture may sound scary, it is a generally safe procedure that is performed under local anesthesia.
During a lumbar puncture, a thin needle is inserted by the doctor, into the lower part of your spine to collect a small amount of fluid. The collected fluid can then be studied to detect diseases such as meningitis, multiple sclerosis, or cancers of the brain or spine.
The lumbar puncture is typically performed by the bedside, using sterile/aseptic techniques to minimize the risk of infection.
Complications are rare and can be minimize with the doctor if the doctor checks prior to the procedure, injection site skin and anatomy suitability, bleeding disorders, medications, etc. There can be rare complications such as injection site bleeding, infection, and even nerve damage. However these serious complications are very uncommon if due caution is taken, by an experienced hand.
Headache is the most common side effect post lumbar puncture. This can occur within a few hours or few days after the procedure, and can last for up to weeks. The headache is usually described as positional, in which its worse on sitting up and improves on lying down. After the procedure, it is advisable to rest in bed for about 6-8 hrs. Stay hydrated during this period. If the headache is serious, the doctor may consider infusion of fluids and prescribing specific medications to alleviate the pain. . eadache: The most common side effect of lumbar puncture is a headache, which may occur within a few hours or a few days after the procedure.
Back discomfort is also a common temporary discomfort that can be experience at the puncture site after the procedure. This discomfort typically resolves within a few days.