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A spinal tap test detects many diseases, including meningitis

The lumbar puncture or spinal tap (LP) test, is a surgical procedure to remove a sample of cerebrospinal fluid in the spine. This test is similar to a blood test, in which a needle is inserted into an artery to collect blood for testing. A spinal tap test, according to the "mayfieldclinic" website.

How does a spinal tap work?


Your brain and spinal cord are surrounded and engulfed by a clear fluid called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). This fluid is produced in the ventricles of the brain and circulates through the subarachnoid space of the brain and spinal cord.

During a lumbar puncture, a hollow needle is inserted through the skin in the lower back. The needle passes between the vertebrae into the spinal canal. A lumbar puncture can be used to:

Collecting cerebrospinal fluid for testing to screen for disease states

Measurement of cerebrospinal fluid pressure to detect hydrocephalus

Presentation of contrast dye to the spinal canal during myelography

Delivery of anesthetic agents to the spinal cord

Treatment to relieve hydrocephalus

Control of cerebrospinal fluid pressure and relaxation of the brain during surgery

What does a lumbar puncture show?


Several conditions can be detected in a CSF including:

Infection of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord (meningitis)

Bleeding (stroke)

Viral infection (encephalitis)

Tumors (lymphoma and cancer)

Autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis

In addition to testing for abnormal cells, cerebrospinal fluid pressure may be measured to determine if you have a condition called hydrocephalus.

Spinal tap risks


A lumbar or spinal tap is safe for most people. Some people develop a severe headache known as a "spinal headache" caused by the leakage of cerebrospinal fluid.

Rare complications include back or leg pain, accidental spinal cord tingling, bleeding into the spinal canal, and brain herniation caused by a sudden drop in cerebrospinal fluid pressure.

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