A Lumbar Puncture (also known as a spinal tap) is an exam performed to evaluate the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. During the procedure a needle is inserted into the spinal canal and samples of brain and spinal fluid are taken.
These samples are then analyzed to determine blood cell counts, protein, glucose, and other substances. A lumbar puncture is typically performed in the following cases:
- Evaluate symptoms associated with meningitis, inflammation, cancer or bleeding the area around the brain or spinal cord.
- Diagnose diseases affecting the brain and spinal cord such as multiple sclerosis.
- Measure the pressure of fluid in the space surrounding the spinal cord.
- Inject dye into the spinal column as preparation for a myelogram.