Spinal Tap Introduction
A spinal tap is a procedure performed when a doctor or health care professional needs to evaluate the cerebrospinal fluid (also known as spinal fluid or CSF). Spinal tap is also referred to as a lumbar puncture, or LP.
Some of the reasons your doctor may want to do a spinal tap include the following:
To look for infection (bacteria can be found in the spinal fluid)
To check to see if there is bleeding around the brain (subarachnoid hemorrhage; small amounts of blood will be found in the fluid)
To look for causes of unexplained seizures
To look for causes of headaches
To evaluate for uncommon diagnoses such as multiple sclerosis, Lyme disease, Guillain-Barré syndrome, and several others.
To administer certain types of chemotherapeutics medications in the treatment of some cancers
Cerebrospinal fluid is a liquid that bathes the brain and spinal cord. An adult has about 140 mL (just under 5 oz) of spinal fluid. Typically, an adult makes 30-100 mL of spinal fluid daily.
A spinal tap can be performed in any person and at any age.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/13/2014
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