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Lumbar Puncture

Lumbar Puncture

St. Mary's Lumbar Puncture Procedure - What You Can Expect

Patient Prep

You must sign a consent form. You must be prepared to remain in the hospital for at least 6 to 8 hours, and you must remain flat.

Infants and children:

The physical and psychological preparation you can provide for this or any test or procedure depends on your child's age, interests, previous experience, and level of trust.

Test Procedure 

You will lie on your side with your knees drawn up toward your chin or on your stomach. The doctor will cleanse the skin over your spinal column with iodine. An injection of local anesthetic may be given at the puncture site. A needle is inserted into your spinal fluid space. A long, thin tube called a manometer is attached to the needle to measure the fluid's pressure. Spinal fluid is collected into specimen tubes for laboratory testing.

After the Test 

You will be asked to lie on your stomach for about 30 minutes. After that, you will be asked to lie on your back or side for 15 to 90 minutes. Your nurse will check the puncture site periodically for swelling or leakage of spinal fluid. They will also ask you to wiggle your toes and move your legs.

Report the following to your physician:

  • headache
  • tingling
  • numbness or pain in your lower back and legs
  • problems with urination

You may return to your hospital room or home, unless given other instructions from the doctor. If you are being driven home, you should lie down in the vehicle, if possible. You will learn the test results either from the doctor before you leave, or from a copy of the letter sent to your personal physician.

Instructions to Follow at Home

  • Drink 8 to 12 glasses of fluid (no alcohol) in the next 12 hours, unless your doctor indicates otherwise
  • Remain quiet for the next 24 hours
  • Avoid any strenuous physical activity for 48 hours
  • If you develop a headache, lie flat for the next 12 to 24 hours or until the headache goes away. Remember to drink plenty of fluids.
  • If your headache persists, call your home physician or the physician at the hospital who performed the Lumbar Puncture test. 

© 2015 St. Mary's Health System   |  3700 Washington Avenue  |  Evansville, IN 47750  |  (812) 485-4000