Lumbar Puncture

It is a procedure that is performed in the lumbar (lower back) region to collect cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) for testing.

What is the purpose of it?

The purpose is to collect and test CSF for different diseases such as meningitis, multiple sclerosis, and other disorders or infections.

How long does the procedure take?

The actual procedure takes about 30-45 minutes, but plan to be in the office for two to three hours.  This allows for your pre-op and recovery time as well.  Your driver must remain in the building during your procedure.

Will the procedure hurt?

The procedure involves inserting a needle through the skin and deeper tissue (like a tetanus shot). So, there is some discomfort involved. However, we numb the skin and deeper tissues with a local anesthetic using a very thin needle just prior to inserting the epidural needle. Also, the tissue in the midline has less nerve supply, so usually you feel strong pressure and not much pain.  Some patients opt to receive IV sedation, which makes the procedure easy to tolerate.

How is the procedure performed?

The procedure is done with the patient lying on their side with their knees drawn up to their chest.  The patient may be monitored with EKG, blood pressure cuff, and blood oxygen monitoring device. The area is cleaned with antiseptic solution and then the procedure is carried out.

What should I expect after the procedure?

Immediately after the procedure, you may feel sore; this is due to the mechanical process of the needle insertion.

What should I do after the procedure?

You should have a driver to take you home. We advise the patient to take it easy for a day or two after the procedure and you should be able to return to work the day after.  You may not participate in any strenuous activities the day of your procedure.  Non-prescriptive medications such as acetaminophen may be taken for headache or back pain.

What are the risks and side effects?

Generally speaking, this procedure is safe. However, with any procedure there are risks, side effects, and possibility of complications. The most common side effect is pain – which is temporary. The other risks involved are spinal headaches, infection, bleeding, etc.

Who should not have this procedure?

If you are allergic to any of the medications to be injected, if you are on a blood thinning medication (ex: Coumadin, Plavix), or if you have an active skin infection at the site of the puncture, you should not have the procedure.

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