• Rating:

A lumbar puncture (LP) is a diagnostic and/or therapeutic procedure performed by inserting a hollow needle into the subarachnoid space of the lumbar (lower back) area of the spine that carries cerebrospinal fluid between the the brain and spinal cord.  This procedure may be done for several reasons.  It may be done to diagnose certain diseases or disorders.  Some examples of those include (but are not limited to):  Meningitis, Encephalitis, Subarachnoid Hemhorrage, certain cancers of the brain and spine, Myelitis, Neurosyphillis, and demyelinating diseases or disorders.  It may also be used to obtain the opening pressure of the cerebrospinal fluid.  A LP may also be used to administer certain medications (such as chemotherapeutic agents), spinal anesthetic, and contrast dye.  A lumbar puncture is also frequently called a spinal tap, spinal puncture, and thecal puncture.

Though many consider the risks and complications for lumbar punctures to be relatively small, there are contraindications noted by many scholars in certain patient populations, such as those who have a Chiari Malformation or a heritable disorder of connective tissue, including but not limited to Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Marfan’s syndrome.  In this patient population, great care and consideration should be taken to minimize the risks associated with lumbar punctures; as well as to determine if an LP is truly medically necessary.  LP’s should be avoided, if at all possible in those with these disorders.  However, in the cases of medical necessity or a life threatening situation, it is not always possible to avoid them. Thus, the size of needle, method of insertion, amount of fluid collected by spontaneous drip only should be considered and adjusted to minimize risks and complications associated in this patient population.  Additionally, lumbar punctures in this patient population should always be performed under fluroscopy by a competent physician.   Patients and physicians should be aware of the more common complication of Post Dural Puncture Headache (PDPH) and cerebrospinal fluid leaks and both their acute and chronic symptoms (which very greatly between the acute and chronic phases).


spinal tap, spinal puncture, thecal puncture
« Back to Glossary Index

Bridges are built as a means to assist people in getting over the things that obstruct their path. We are constantly facing obstacles when it comes to our health, so we decided to build a bridge! Chiari Bridges is a non-profit network built by Chiarians for Chiarians. Our goal is to provide information, substantiated by published studies, in a way that is easy to understand. We encourage readers, to not only read our articles, but look up every study for themselves and read that too. Print it out and sit down with a highlighter; read it as many times as necessary until you understand; then use it to talk to your doctors. Our doctors are under no obligation to read our articles, but they should be willing to read officially published studies from journals, especially those specific to their profession. As many of our authors are patients as well, all authors sharing original pieces will be writing under pseudo-ghost names, to protect them from being black-listed by their doctors. Chiari Bridges is not affiliated with any physician or medical group. You should in no way use this site as a replacement for diagnosis, treatment, or medical from a qualified medical professional. The information provided on our website is strictly for educational purposes, in order to help further the understanding of Chiari, and its associated conditions. Our goal is to share our collective experiences and the information we have gathered, with those in need of answers, that it may increase your knowledge and guide you in conversations with your doctors.