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Receive a Spinal Tap


A spinal tap, or lumbar puncture, is a neurological procedure to collect cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Since CSF fluid is taken from the lower spine (lumbar), the medical term is lumbar puncture. This fluid acts a protective covering for the brain and spinal cord. It’s maintained at a certain pressure, acting as a buffer for the brain and spine. 

If you’ve been referred for a spinal tap in the Bay Area, Find a Doctor at Dignity Health. Our spine experts offer personalized treatment at a location near you.

Why Spinal Tap is Performed

Your doctor may recommend a spinal tap to evaluate a range of neurological problems, including:

  • Brain bleeding caused by traumatic brain injury or bleeding aneurysm
  • Infections in the brain or spine
  • Rise in intracranial pressure, which can be caused by increased CSF pressure

In some instances, your doctor may prescribe a spinal tap so that medication can be injected directly into your spine.

What to Expect at Dignity Health

Our neurologists, physician assistants, anesthesiologists, and specialized nurses perform spinal tap procedures in our hospitals and specialty centers. The procedure usually takes about 45 minutes. After your doctor has positioned you on a table, he or she cleans the puncture area with antiseptic liquid. An injection of numbing medication may be given. Your doctor inserts a spinal needle, records the CSF pressure, and withdraws a sample of fluid. He or she may inject any necessary medications and then bandage the area.

Spinal Tap Recovery

Your doctor monitors your status for several minutes for possible bleeding around the spinal cord. You’ll lie flat on your back to put pressure on the puncture site. This helps reduce the risk of bleeding or leaking CSF fluid.

A lumbar puncture headache is the most common side effect (likely caused by a change in intracranial pressure). Tell your doctor about any discomfort you experience. The results of your spinal tap are typically available in a few days. Your doctor creates a personalized treatment plan based on these results.

We want you to feel as comfortable as possible before your spinal tap in the Bay Area. Let us know we can provide the personal care you deserve before, during, and after your procedure. 

For a quality spinal tap visit a Dignity Health Bay Area hospital.