What is a lumbar puncture (spinal tap)?
A lumbar puncture (spinal tap) is acted in the lower back, in the lumbar locale. During a lumbar puncture, a needle is inserted between the two lumbar bones (vertebrae) to remove a sample of cerebrospinal fluid. This is the liquid that encompasses the cerebrum and spinal rope to shield them from injury.
A lumbar puncture can help analyze genuine contaminations, for example, meningitis. Other central nervous system disorders, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome and multiple sclerosis, or cancers of the brain or spinal cord. A lumbar puncture is now and again used to infuse sedation or chemotherapy drugs into the cerebrospinal liquid.
Why is a spinal tap performed?
A spinal tap may be performed to rule out an infection such as meningitis or encephalitis as a cause of epileptic seizures.
Besides used to treat epilepsy, the cerebrospinal fluid test can help diagnose disorders of chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, the central nervous system that may include the brain, spinal cord, or their covering (the meninges). Examples include meningitis, multiple sclerosis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, or idiopathic headache.
CSF contains glucose (sugar), proteins, and different substances found in the blood. The fluid test will show the number and types of white blood cells, glucose level, types and levels of proteins, and the presence of bacteria, fungi, or abnormal cells.
A spinal tap may also be performed:
- Measurement of pressure around the brain and spinal cord
- Relieve pressure in the head
- Spinal anaesthesia
- Inject the dye for an X-ray diagnostic test
- Injection medications (such as baclofen)
NOTE: A cerebrospinal fluid test may not be necessary if a spinal tap is done to inject the drug.
What are the benefits of a lumbar puncture?
A lumbar puncture can help your PCP precisely analyze or preclude certain ailments, including some dangerous ailments. The sooner they diagnose the diagnosis, the faster you can get appropriate treatment. Some conditions, such as bacterial meningitis, can be fatal if you don’t get them treated quickly enough.
A lumbar puncture can likewise enable your PCP to give you a few sorts of prescriptions.
What are the risks of a lumbar puncture?
A lumbar puncture is generally safe, but there may be some risks. According to our clinic, up to a quarter of people who have a lumbar puncture develop a headache afterwards. Lying down for a few hours after the procedure may reduce your risk of headaches.
Other potential risks include pain or pain in the lower back and bleeding near the puncture site. You may feel some pain and numbness going down your legs. In rare cases, people have brainstem herniation, which is the movement of brain tissue from its normal position in your skull. This is uncommon.
Before having a lumbar puncture
Your primary care physician or medical caretaker ought to clarify what will occur and why you need a lumbar puncture.
A few days or weeks before the test:
- You may have a CT scan or an MRI scan – to make sure you need a lumbar puncture and that it is safe to have one.
- Tell the hospital if you are taking blood-thinning medications (anticoagulants) – such as warfarin
On the day:
- You can eat, drink and accept prescription as would be expected
- You will be drawn closer to sign a consent structure
- You will usually need to undress and wear a hospital gown before the procedure – you may also want to use the toilet
How is the LP procedure performed?
Usually, patients lie on their side for the procedure. Often times, the procedure is performed while the patient is seated and leaning slightly forward.
After nearby sedation is infused into the lumbar district, a long needle is embedded between the bones of the spine (vertebrae) into the spinal waterway. (The needle is most usually positioned between the third and fourth lumbar vertebrae.)
Your cerebrospinal fluid pressure may then be measured and the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) removed for testing.
What happens after a lumbar puncture?
This helps reduce the occurrence of headaches. It will allow you to roll from side to side as long as your head is not raised. If you need to urinate, you may need to do so in a bedspread or urinal during the time you need to stay flat.
You will be asked to drink additional fluids to replace the fluids after the operation. This replaces the cerebrospinal fluid that was withdrawn during a spinal tap and reduces the chance of a headache. After you recover, you may be taken to your hospital room or discharged home. If you go home, your healthcare provider will usually advise you to rest for the rest of the day
Once you are at home, notify your service provider of any abnormalities, such as:
- Numbness and tingling in the legs
- Blood or pain at the injection site
- Inability to urinate
In the event that the migraine endures for in excess of a couple of hours after the technique, or when the position changes, contact the Neuroradiology group with the telephone number on your release directions.
You may be required to restrict your activity for 24 hours after the procedure. Your healthcare provider may give you other specific instructions about what to do after the lumbar puncture.
Spinal tap results
The CSF samples are sent to a laboratory for analysis. Lab technicians check a number of things when examining spinal fluid, including:
- General look: The cerebrospinal fluid is usually clear and colourless. If it is cloudy, yellow, or pink, this may indicate abnormal bleeding. Green spinal fluid may indicate an infection or the presence of bilirubin.
- Protein (total protein and presence of certain proteins): High levels of total protein – more than 45 milligrams per deciliter (mg / dL) – may indicate the presence of an infection or other inflammatory conditions. The specific laboratory qualities may fluctuate from the clinical office to the clinical office.
- White blood cells: The cerebrospinal fluid usually contains up to 5 white blood cells (mononuclear leukocytes) per microliter. Increasing numbers may indicate infection. Specific laboratory qualities may differ from the clinical office to the clinical office.
- Sugar (glucose): A low level of glucose in your cerebrospinal fluid may indicate an infection or other condition.
- The presence of microscopic organisms, infections, parasites, or different microorganisms can show disease.
- Cancer cells: Abnormal cells in the cerebrospinal fluid – such as a tumor or immature blood cells – can indicate certain types of cancer.
Lab results are combined with information obtained during the test, such as cerebrospinal fluid pressure, to help determine a possible diagnosis. A healthcare professional generally gives you results in a few days, but it may take longer. Ask when you expect to receive your test results.