A spinal tap, or lumbar puncture, is a minimally invasive procedure to collect a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from the lower back area of the spine. CSF is maintained at a certain pressure and helps protect the brain and spinal cord from damage. A sample of this fluid can help your doctor diagnose a range of conditions that affect the brain and spine.
If you would like to learn more about spinal tap in Arizona, Find a Doctor at Dignity Health.
Why Spinal Tap is Performed
A neurologist at Dignity Health may perform a spinal tap to evaluate a variety of conditions, including:
- Infections of the brain or spinal cord
- Brain bleeding, caused by a brain injury, bleeding aneurysm, or other bleeding disorder
- Rise in intracranial pressure, which can be due to increased CSF pressure
In addition to collecting samples of cerebrospinal fluid, a doctor may use a spinal tap to deliver medication directly to the spinal cord.
What to Expect With Spinal Tap at Dignity Health
A spinal tap procedure may be performed by a neurologist, anesthesiologist, specialized nurse, or physician’s assistant at Dignity Health. It is usually performed in a hospital and may take about 45 minutes.
All spinal tap procedures involve the risk of bleeding around the spinal cord. Your doctor will closely monitor you for any signs of bleeding after the procedure. During the spinal tap, you will lie on your back. This will put pressure on the puncture site and reduce the risk of bleeding or leaking CSF.
You will be given local anesthesia to numb the puncture site. Your surgeon will insert a thin, hollow needle between the two lower vertebrae and into the spinal canal. You may feel some pressure when the needle is inserted. Your doctor will measure and withdraw CSF, then measure it again. The needle will be taken out and the puncture site will bandaged.
Recovery After a Spinal Tap
You may need to spend the rest of the day resting at home. Some people report having a headache after a spinal tap. This is caused by the temporary change in intracranial pressure from the procedure. Tell your doctor about any complications you may experience.
Dignity Health offers excellence in minimally invasive neurosurgery, procedures, and testing, including spinal tap in Arizona.