Lumbar Puncture

A lumbar puncture is a test of the fluid around your spine and brain. This fluid is called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). It provides protection and nutrition to the brain and nerve cells. CSF also helps to remove waste products from the brain.

  • Call Your Doctor

    After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

    • Severe headache or headache lasting for more than 24 hours
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
    • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, bleeding, or discharge from the lumbar puncture site
    • Numbness, tingling, or pain in your lower back or legs
    • Weakness in your lower legs or difficulty walking
    • Problems with urination or defecation
    • A stiff neck
    • Pain that you cannot control with the medications you have been given

    In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.

  • Definition

    A lumbar puncture is a test of the fluid around your spine and brain. This fluid is called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). It provides protection and nutrition to the brain and nerve cells. CSF also helps to remove waste products from the brain.

    Lumbar Puncture Method
    nucleus factsheet image
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • What to Expect

  • Reasons for Procedure

    The test is done to look for abnormalities in the spinal fluid. It may be done to help diagnose conditions such as:

    • Brain infection, or infection of the layers around the brain
    • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
    • Any disorder affecting the nervous system
    • Certain types of cancer
    • Bleeding in the brain or spinal cord
    • Excess CSF in the brain

    The procedure may also be done to:

    • Administer dye for imaging studies
    • Drain CSF to lower pressure within the brain

    • Give medication directly to the spine such as
      chemotherapy
      ,
      antibiotics,
      and
      anesthesia

  • Possible Complications

    If you are planning to have a lumbar puncture, your doctor will review a list of possible complications. Complications may include:

    • Headache
    • Backache
    • Bleeding, which can compress the nerve roots or spinal cord
    • Pain or abnormal burning, pricking, or tingling sensations in legs
    • Allergic reaction to anesthetic
    • Infection