What are spinal tap and lumbar puncture?

Also known as: lumbar puncture, spinal tap.

Lumbar puncture and spinal tap are two terms for the same medical procedure. It involves removing a sample of spinal fluid from the spine in order to diagnose a potential infection.


What happens during the procedure?

The patient will lie on his or her side, a local anesthetic is applied, and a needle is inserted into the back. Some spinal fluid is withdrawn, and the needle is removed.


Is any special preparation needed?

You may need to stop taking certain medications before the procedure. In some cases, a CT scan is necessary before the procedure is performed.


What are the risk factors?

Headache, back pain, and bleeding are potential complications of spinal tap and lumbar puncture.


Reviewed by: Gregory W Hornig, MD

This page was last updated on: 1/29/2019 3:21:13 PM

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