What is a cerebral spinal fluid analysis (spinal tap)?

A lumbar puncture, or spinal tap, is a procedure where a needle is inserted into a space within the spinal column of the lower back. Your doctor will use the information from this test in your diagnosis and care.

A lumbar puncture can be done:
  • to obtain fluid for laboratory testing
  • to measure and relieve spinal pressure
  • to detect if blood is in the spinal fluid
  • to detect a spinal blockage
  • to instill antibiotics
  • to instill anticancer drugs

Continue Learning about Spinal Tap

Why might a spinal tap be conducted on a person in a coma?
Diana MeeksDiana Meeks
A spinal tap is conducted in coma cases if the CT and MRI scans are inconclusive and the doctor susp...
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Will I feel pain during a lumbar puncture?
Multiple Sclerosis FoundationMultiple Sclerosis Foundation
A lumbar puncture (LP) -- also called a spinal tap -- is scary but not at all dangerous, and most ti...
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What should I expect during a spinal tap?
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During a lumbar puncture (spinal tap), two body positions allow the widest space in the spinal colum...
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What should I expect after a spinal tap?
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After a lumbar puncture (spinal tap), you will be instructed to lie flat on your back, stomach, or s...
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.