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Lumbar Puncture

How To Prepare continued...

You will empty your bladder before the procedure.

You will be asked to sign a consent form that says you understand the risks of the test and agree to have it done.

Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the procedure, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

How It Is Done

A lumbar puncture may be done in your doctor's office, in an emergency room, or at your bedside in the hospital. It may also be done in the radiology department if fluoroscopy is used.

You will lie on a bed camera.gif on your side with your knees drawn up toward your chest. Or you may sit on the edge of a chair or bed and lean forward over a table with your head and chest bent toward your knees. These positions help widen the spaces between the bones of the lower spine so that the needle can be inserted more easily. If fluoroscopy is used, you will lie on your stomach so the fluoroscopy machine can take pictures of your spine during the procedure.

Your doctor marks your lower back (lumbar area) with a pen where the puncture will occur. The area is cleaned with a special soap and draped with sterile towels. A numbing medicine (local anesthetic) is put in the skin.

Then a long, thin needle is put in the spinal canal. When the needle is in place, the solid central core of the needle (stylet) is removed. If the needle is in the right spot in the spinal canal, a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) will drip from the end of the needle. If not, the stylet will be put back in and the needle will be moved in a little farther or at a different angle to get to the fluid. Your doctor may need to move to another area of your spine if it is hard to get to the spinal fluid.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 30, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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