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Definition of Lumbar Puncture (or Spinal Tap)

A lumbar puncture, or spinal tap, is a procedure performed to collect a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which surrounds the brain and the spinal cord. A needle is inserted into the lower back, and CSF is collected for further study.

Purpose of the Test

This test helps to identify many neurological disorders, diseases, infections and injuries:

  • Meningitis
  • Brain bleeding
  • Diagnose MS or Guillain-Barr√© syndrome
  • Measure CSF pressure
  • Inject a radioactive dye for further x-ray or nuclear tests