Lumbar Puncture Patient Information

Your doctor has recommended you for a lumbar puncture (also known as a spinal tap). The lumbar puncture takes a sample of the fluid which surrounds your brain and spinal cord so that it may tested. It is often used for the diagnosis of an infection or diseases of the nervous system, to test the pressure of the spinal fluid, or to inject medications into the spinal canal. Franklin Moser, MD, Director of Neuroradiology, heads our team of imaging physicians, nurses and technologists who specialize in these procedures.

Before Arriving for Your Procedure

You will be contacted by a member of our team the day before your exam (between 4 and 6 p.m.) and given instructions on how you should prepare and what time you should arrive. If you are not contacted, please call (310) 423-4125 early in the morning of your procedure (such as 6 a.m.)

You should have your doctor's office fax all orders and lab results to Cedars-Sinai the day before your procedure: (310) 423-0108.

You should plan to arrive two hours before your scheduled procedure (three hours if you have not had all your pre-op lab work done).

You should not eat anything from the midnight before your procedure.

You should consult with your physician about taking your regular medications prior to your exam. Some medications(such as Coumadin or Plavix) should not be taken before your procedure.

You will not be allowed to drive after the procedure, so you should arrange for someone to help you get home.

We want to make your waiting time as pleasant as possible. Consider bringing your favorite magazine, book or music player to help you pass the time.

Please leave your jewelry and valuables at home and please wear comfortable clothing.

After Arriving

A physician specialist in interventional radiology will discuss your procedure with you and answer any questions you might have.

After this discussion, you will be asked to sign a consent form, giving us permission to perform the test.

You must tell the technologist, nurse, or physician of any allergies you may have, and whether you are or might be pregnant.

During Your Procedure

You will be asked to change into a hospital gown.

You will be asked to either lay on your side or sit leaning forward in a chair.

Your back will be cleaned.

A local anesthetic will be used to numb the skin on your back.

A needle will be inserted into the space between two of the bones in your back, and some fluid will be removed. A special gauge might be attached to the needle to test the pressure of your spinal fluid.

The needle will remain in place for a couple of minutes.

The lumbar puncture procedure usually takes 15 to 30 minutes.

After Your Procedure

You will be asked to lay flat for a few hours, and might experience a headache after the procedure.

You should avoid strenuous activity for 24 hours.

If a sample of fluid was taken it will be tested and a report written.

The report will be sent to your physician who will discuss the results with you.

To request a copy of your report, call (310) 423-8000.

Parking Information

The S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center provides a full range of advanced imaging, both radiology and cardiology, as well as interventional radiology and interventional tumor (oncology) treatments to the greater Los Angeles area, including Beverly Hills, Encino, Mid-Cities, Sherman Oaks, Silver Lake, Studio City, Toluca Lake, and West Hollywood.  

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