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Test: Lumbar Puncture

A lumbar puncture is usually performed to look for evidence of meningitis or other nervous system disorders, such as multiple sclerosis. The procedure is carried out under local anaesthesia and takes about 15 minutes. During the procedure, the pressure of the cerebrospinal fluid is checked, and a sample is taken for analysis. To help prevent a headache after the procedure, you should remain lying down flat for about an hour and drink plenty of fluids, including caffeine-containing ones such as tea and coffee.

During the procedure

A hollow needle is inserted between two vertebrae near the base of the spine and into the cerebrospinal fluid. A small sample of the fluid is removed for analysis.

Cross section

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

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