A Spinal Tap – also called a lumbar puncture, is a procedure in which the fluid surrounding the spinal cord (called the cerebrospinal fluid or CSF) is withdrawn through a needle and examined in a laboratory for a variety of reasons.
Neurologists, Radiologists, and other specialists perform this procedure in a sterile surgical hospital based setting. This procedure may be performed to: measure the pressure around the brain and spinal cord, relieve pressure in the head, provide a pathway for spinal anesthesia, inject dye for a diagnostic test such as a myelogram, and inject medications such as (baclofen) for spasticity
Testing the CSF can help diagnose disorders of the central nervous system that may involve the brain, spinal cord or their coverings (meninges). Meningitis, Multiple Sclerosis, and other conditions and diseases can be identified through testing the CSF.
The CSF contains glucose , certain proteins and other substances found in the blood. When the CSF is examined in the laboratory, the following can be evaluated: the number and types of white blood cells, level of glucose in the body, the types and levels of various proteins, the presence of bacteria, fungi or abnormal cells.
This test could be performed on an in-patient in the hospital or as a scheduled out-patient procedure in a hospital.
Post-surgical care is as prescribed by the attending physician.