A spinal tap is a procedure to collect a sample of spinal fluid, also known as cerebrospinal fluid or CSF. Spinal fluid is a clear, protective liquid that surrounds the spinal cord and brain. Your body maintains spinal fluid at a specific pressure, which is what allows it to buffer the brain and spinal cord from damage. The medical term for a spinal tap is lumbar puncture because the spinal fluid is taken from the lumbar (lower back) area of the spine.
At Dignity Health - St. Rose Dominican hospitals, we diagnose and treat neurological conditions using spinal tap in Las Vegas and Henderson, NV. Find a Doctor online or call (702) 616-4900 to learn more about our personalized neurological care.
Why Does Your Doctor Need a Sample of Your Spinal Fluid?
Doctors perform a spinal tap to help investigate a number of conditions, including:
- Rise in intracranial pressure, which can be due to increased spinal fluid pressure
- Infections of the spinal cord or brain
- Bleeding in the brain due to traumatic brain injury or other conditions, such as a bleeding disorder or bleeding aneurysm
Doctors may also use a spinal tap to deliver medications directly to the spinal cord area.
What to Expect During a Spinal Tap Procedure
A spinal tap normally takes about 45 minutes and is performed in a Dignity Health - St. Rose Dominican hospital.
During the spinal tap procedure, you will sit on the edge of the exam table with your legs dangling and your chin tucked. Or you might be asked to lie on your side with your knees drawn up toward your chest. You may receive an injection of numbing medication. This injection might sting for a moment. Then, your doctor inserts a thin spinal needle. You may feel brief pain or pressure as the needle punctures the tissue surrounding the spinal cord. Once the needle is in place, your doctor records the spinal fluid pressure and withdraws a sample of fluid. If necessary, your doctor may also inject medications at this time. Afterwards, your doctor removes the needle and covers the puncture site with a bandage.
Recovering After a Spinal Tap at Dignity Health - St. Rose Dominican Hospitals
Because a spinal tap involves the risk of bleeding around the spinal cord, your doctor will monitor you for several minutes after the procedure. You will have to lie flat on your back to put pressure on the puncture site. This reduces your risk of leaking spinal fluid or bleeding. You may need to rest for the remainder of the day at home.
The most common complication of a spinal tap is headache. This may occur from the temporary change in intracranial pressure caused by the spinal tap. You should report a headache or any other symptoms to your doctor immediately.
Dignity Health - St. Rose Dominican doctors diagnose neurological conditions using spinal tap in Las Vegas and Henderson, NV.