Lumbar Puncture

What is a lumbar puncture

A lumbar puncture is a procedure in which the fluid, called Cerebrospinal Fluid or CSF, surrounding the spinal cord and spinal nerves is withdrawn through a needle and then examined in the laboratory. Sometimes as part of the procedure the pressure of you CSF is also collected. As the fluid surrounds the brain it contains information about the brain and spine. Post procedure the fluid or CSF is sent to pathology to further investigate your illness.

No preparation is required, however we do recommend hydrating in the days leading up to your appointment.
On the day of your procedure you will be admitted to Day Stay under your private health insurance. You will need to present to admissions on Level 1 and our porters will bring you down from the ward on a bed.

The procedure usually takes about thirty minutes and you will remain in the day surgery area for approximately 2 hours post procedure.

The injection will be performed by a radiologist who will be assisted by our radiographers and nursing staff.
You will be asked to change into a gown and lie either face down or on your side, on the CT table. A series of planning scans will be taken so that the exact position for the injection site can be marked on your back with a removable marker.
The region over the lower spine will be cleansed with an antiseptic solution and covered with sterile drape. The radiologist will inject the area with a local anaesthetic to numb the skin. A very fine needle is positioned in the fluid filled space below the spinal cord. To do this, the needle has to be passed between the vertebrae in your back. There may be some discomfort involved but usually you will feel more pressure than pain. Occasionally the needle will rub against a nerve and you may feel a tingling down your leg. When the needle is in the correct position, the radiologist will collect the fluid and test the pressure of your CSF. Once the procedure is finished the needle is removed and a bandaid placed on the area.

A porter will return you to the NSPH Day Ward where they will observe you for 2-4 hours, after which you will be free to leave.
The CSF fluid collected will be sent to pathology who will analyse the fluid and send the result to your referring doctor. You may receive an account from them for the pathology analysis of your CSF.

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