Lumbar Puncture and Cerebrospinal Fluid Analysis
(LP & CSF Analysis)

Alternate Names

  • Spinal Fluid Analysis

A spinal tap (lumbar puncture) may be done when there are unexplained changes to level of consciousness, coma, neurological problems, suspected bleeding in the brain or surrounding spaces, brain infections caused by bacteria or viruses, degenerative nerve or muscle diseases, or cancer of the brain or spinal cord. Fluid is removed with a needle that is placed into the space between vertebrae of the spinal column. The fluid is then both examined with a microscope to identify abnormal cells, and a variety of laboratory chemistry levels will also be run on the fluid. CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) pressure is also checked both before and after fluid is removed, which assists your doctor in making a diagnosis.

Following the procedure, you will need to lie flat for 1 to 3 hours to avoid developing a headache.

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