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A lumbar puncture, or spinal tap, is a common neurological procedure that removes cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from the spinal canal so a doctor can study the fluid more thoroughly. While neurologists perform this test frequently, the idea of a lumbar puncture makes most people nervous.
What Happens During
A lumbar puncture procedure usually takes about 45 minutes to an hour. You will go through the following steps:
You will lay on your side in a fetal position with your knees tucked close to your chest. Alternatively, you may be asked to sit in a hunched position with your back to the neurologist.
Once your back is numb, the neurologist will slip a hollow needle between two backbones into the thecal sac, which is the space containing the CSF. Sometimes the needle has to be repositioned to find the right spot.
Once the needle is in place, the neurologist may measure the pressure using the manometer.
The fluid then drips out and is collected in test tubes to be sent to the lab.
Once the fluid is collected, the needle is removed.
A bandage is usually placed over the site of the lumbar puncture.