Epilepsy and the Spinal Tap
What to Expect From a Spinal Tap continued...
Side effects and risks of a spinal tap
- Approximately 10% to 20% of people develop a spinal headache (one that worsens when sitting or standing).
- The risk of infection is extremely low.
- Occasionally, a small blood vessel is pierced, causing bloody discharge. No treatment is needed.
- The procedure is usually not painful, but momentary twinges of pain may be felt if the needle brushes against nerve tissue.
Care after a spinal tap
- Once a spinal tap is completed, you will be instructed to lie flat. The time spent flat after the tap will vary depending on why you received the procedure.
- Avoid strenuous or vigorous exercise for a day or so following the lumbar puncture.
- If you have a headache, lay down as much as possible and drink plenty of fluids. Contact your health care provider if the headache persists.
- Drink 2 1/2 quarts of liquid the day of the lumbar puncture and the day after (regardless of headache).
When to Contact the Doctor After a Spinal Tap
After a spinal tap, call your local doctor immediately if:
- You notice any unusual drainage, including bloody discharge, at the puncture site
- You develop a fever
- Your headache persists
- Your pain symptoms worsen
After the Spinal Tap
You will be monitored for a few hours after a spinal tap procedure. At that time, the nurse will discuss post-procedure instructions with you. You will be provided with a written form of these instructions to follow at home.
The results of your spinal tap will be discussed with the doctor who ordered it within 24 hours.