The Lumbar Puncture Procedure

Before you arrive for your Lumbar Puncture

What happens during your Lumbar Puncture?

What is
spinal fluid?

Why is spinal fluid

What are the risks of the procedure?

What if you develop a headache?

What happens after your procedure?

Do you have
any questions?

What to expect before, during and after your Lumbar Puncture.

There is nothing you need to do.

You can drink and eat as you usually would.

You will be asked to change into a gown.

You will lie on your side with your legs tucked into your chest.

The doctor will clean your back with a cool, sterile fluid.

They will then inject local anaesthetic to numb the area.

Once the area is numb, the doctor will pass a needle into the space between your vertebrae.

You will feel a pushing sensation here and may experience mild pain.

The pressure of the space where the spinal fluid is will then be measured and a small amount of fluid will be collected.

Spinal fluid is a watery liquid within which the brain and spinal cord are suspended. It plays important roles in the physical and chemical stability of the brain and spinal cord.

Diseases of the brain and spinal cord change the composition of the spinal fluid. Analysing the spinal fluid can help make a correct diagnosis.

The main risk of the procedure is a post Lumbar Puncture headache.

Up to 1 in 5 patients can develop this type of headache.

It typically occurs up to 2 days after your Lumbar Puncture. This type of headache kicks in when sitting or standing up, whilst it goes away when lying down. In most patients it lasts less than 5 days.

At Barts Health, a particular needle is used which reduces this risk to around 20%. This is called an 'atraumatic spinal needle'.

Drink plenty of fluid including caffeinated drinks. Caffeine may help the brain to replace the fluid that has been removed.

Bed rest will help to relieve your headache.

Take painkillers such as Paracetamol or Ibuprofen.

If the headache is more severe or persistent, contact your GP. You should also contact your GP or visit A&E if you develop a fever with your headche.

After the spinal fluid has been collected (this takes around 10 minutes), you will be asked to lie flat for a short period of time (around 1 hour).

After this, you can return to your usual activities as soon as you feel ready.

Your results will either be sent to you, or you will be seen in outpatients to discuss them with your doctor.

Please read the information and consent form carefully, and feel free to ask any questions before you have your Lumbar Puncture. Once you are happy to go ahead, please sign the form.