Home Medication and medical testsVarious medical tests Lumbar puncture: what it is and what it is for

Lumbar puncture: what it is and what it is for

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

A lumbar puncture is a diagnostic test in which a sample of cerebrospinal fluid, a colorless substance that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, is taken. This liquid is mainly composed of water, calcium, sodium, potassium, chlorine, inorganic salts and other organic components. Its function is to cushion and protect the brain and spine from trauma. When this liquid changes its color, it is because there is some alteration in the body and it will be necessary to perform this test to determine it. At FastlyHealwe explain what lumbar puncture is and what it is for .

What is lumbar puncture

It is a medical test that will allow diagnosing or ruling out diseases, studying a sample of cerebrospinal fluid, in which the amount of white blood cells, the levels of glucose and protein concentration, and whether bacteria are present will be analyzed.

What is lumbar puncture done for?

Lumbar puncture is performed to diagnose meningitis , but there are also other conditions for which this test may be indicated:

  • Alterations in the production and circulation of cerebrospinal fluid.
  • Inject chemotherapy treatment.
  • Infectious diseases such as meningitis , encephalitis, or syphilis.
  • Bleeding around the brain.
  • Cancers related to the brain or spinal cord.
  • Central nervous system diseases such as Guillaim-Barré syndrome or multiple sclerosis.

How the lumbar puncture is performed

Before performing the exam, you must sign an authorization so that the medical team can perform the puncture. On the other hand, it will be necessary for someone to accompany you; Your doctor will tell you any other details regarding the medications that you must dispense with and you should inform him or her if you take any anticoagulants.

The duration of the lumbar puncture is approximately 30 minutes, the patient is placed in a fetal position, with the knees towards the abdomen and the chin close to the chest, in this way the spaces between the vertebrae will be wider. The doctor will clean the area and place anesthesia, later, which will measure the pressure of the fluid and collect the sample, and insert a fine needle between the bones of the spine. Finally, the needle is removed, the area is cleaned, and a bandage is placed. Your doctor may recommend lying down for a few minutes after your lumbar puncture.

In some cases, X-rays can be used or it can be part of other procedures such as a CT scan or X-ray, in which a contrast liquid has previously been introduced.

Abnormal lumbar puncture results

There are several data that can indicate that there is a problem in the body from the lumbar puncture :

  • In case the cerebrospinal fluid looks cloudy, it is related to infections.
  • If there is pressure in the fluid, it may be due to pressure in the skull, if on the contrary, there is no pressure, it may be a tumor or a diabetic coma.
  • If there is an increase in protein in this substance it is due to infectious or inflammatory conditions.
  • If high glucose is present, it is a sign that blood sugar levels are increasing, if it is in lower amounts it can represent hypoglycemia, tuberculosis, meningitis or any other bacterial or fungal disease.
  • If the test showed blood cells such as white blood cells , it could be a sign of chronic disease, tumors, meningitis, or an acute infection.

Lumbar puncture risks

There are some risks when performing a lumbar puncture:

  • Risk of bleeding around the brain.
  • Discomfort while the test is being performed.
  • Headaches, after lumbar puncture.
  • Allergic reactions to anesthesia.
  • There may be damage to the spinal nerves if the patient moves during the exam.


Your doctor should carry out examinations prior to performing the puncture, to rule out the following conditions, in which it would be contraindicated:

  • If you have a tumor that puts pressure on the brainstem.
  • If your platelets are low.
  • If you take blood thinners or aspirin.
  • If you have clotting problems.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Lumbar puncture: what it is and what it is for , we recommend that you enter our category of Medication and medical tests .

You may also like

Leave a Comment