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Spinal Tap (cont.)

Next Steps after Spinal Tap

  • Depending on the reason for the spinal tap, you might be admitted to the hospital or asked to follow up with your doctor.
  • If the tap is performed in the emergency department, the some of the results are typically given to you at the time of the visit while others often are not available for 24-48 hours.
  • If the spinal tap is performed in a doctor's office, then a follow-up telephone call may be suggested, or a follow-up appointment may be scheduled to discuss the results of the tests, especially if specialized testing is ordered.

When to Seek Medical Care After a Spinal Tap

You should contact your doctor if any of the following occur:

  • Infection
    • Rarely, an infection may develop at the site where the needle was inserted may occur.
    • Signs and symptoms include redness, swelling, tenderness, or pus from the site.
  • Headache
    • Headaches can occur after a spinal tap and occasionally may be severe.
    • If this occurs, you should contact your doctor.

Any signs or symptoms of infection or severe headache should prompt immediate attention from your doctor. If you are unable to reach your doctor, then you should seek immediate attention from your local emergency department.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/25/2016
Medical Author:

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