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What should I expect during a spinal tap?

During a lumbar puncture (spinal tap), two body positions allow the widest space in the spinal column for easier needle entry. You will be asked to lie on your side in a fetal position (knees pulled up to the abdomen) or you may be asked to sit and rest your arms and head on a pillow and table in front of you. Being very still during this procedure is very important.

The skin will be cleansed with an antimicrobial solution. The physician will inject a local anesthetic agent to numb the area. Then a longer needle is inserted into a spinal column space. A piece of equipment called a manometer is attached to the needle to record spinal fluid pressure. A small amount of spinal fluid is placed into test tubes for lab testing. After the needle is withdrawn, a bandage is applied to the area.

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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.