Spinal Tap

Definition of Spinal Tap:

Despite the discomfort felt by many over this procedure, spinal taps are actually very simple procedures from the doctor's standpoint.  Because the fluid that coats and flows through the brain also flows down into the spinal cord, the spinal fluid reflects what is occurring in the brain.  A spinal tap involves: numbing the skin over the lower part of the spine with an injection or cream; sterilizing the area; having the patient curl up on his side while being held securely; passing a needle through the skin at a large space in between two of the lower vertebrae (the needle does NOT pass through bone); slowly advancing the needle until it "pops" through the lining of the spinal canal into an area of spinal fluid (the needle does NOT go into the spinal cord where the nerves are because the spinal cord stops further up the spine: the bottom of the spine simply contains a reservoir of spinal fluid); spinal fluid will flow out through the needle and the doctor will collect it and send it to the lab.  Once the needle is pulled out, the hole seals up rapidly.

Also: Lumbar Puncture

Topics Related to Spinal Tap


...the condition
“...Lumbar puncture should always be done is cases of suspected meningitis...”

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

...the condition
“...Standard diagnostic tests will include a spinal tap to rule out more common causes of dementia and an electroencephalogram (EEG) to record the brain's electrical pattern, which can be particularly valuable because it shows a specific type of...”
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More topics Related to Spinal Tap

Guillain-Barre Syndrome

...the condition
“...To confirm the diagnosis, a lumbar puncture to find elevated fluid protein and electrical test of nerve and muscle function may be performed...”


...the condition
“...If the doctor decides that there is a chance of meningitis being present, the doctor will recommend a spinal tap.  There is no way to diagnose meningitis without a spinal tap...”

Neurologic Testing, Conventional

...as a treatment
“...Lumbar Puncture A lumbar puncture (spinal tap) is used to analyze cerebrospinal fluid...”
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More topics Related to Spinal Tap

Orbital Cellulitis

...the condition
“...Tests commonly include: Complete blood count; Blood culture and sensitivity; Spinal tap in extremely sick children...”


...as a treatment
“...In 24 trials investigating bed rest following a medical procedure, no outcomes improved significantly and eight worsened significantly in some procedures (lumbar puncture, spinal anaesthesia, radiculography, and cardiac catheterisation)...”

Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

...the condition
“...A lumbar puncture can confirm that you have a subarachnoid hemorrhage even when the hemorrhage is too small to appear on a CT scan...”

West Nile Virus

...the condition
“...Diagnostic tests that may be used if West Nile virus is suspected include the following ... Lumbar puncture and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) testing usually shows elevated WBC count (especially lymphocytes)...”
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