Lumbar Puncture Side Effects – Potential Risks and Complications

Serious lumbar puncture side effects are rare, as it is a relatively safe procedure. This procedure, used to extract cerebrospinal fluid for analysis, is a very important diagnostic tool in many nervous disorders and diseases. However, similar to most medical procedures, there are possibilities of complications. Some of the lumbar puncture risks have been discussed below.

Lumbar Puncture Side Effects

The procedure is performed even on infants as lumbar puncture side effects are minimal

Lumbar Puncture Side Effects You Should Know About

Lumbar Puncture Risk #1: Post Lumbar Puncture Headache

The most common among lumbar puncture side effects is a headache. This effect is felt by around 30% of people who have undergone the procedure. The headache can range from moderate to severe, and it can be accompanied by dizziness, nausea and vomiting.

The headache usually starts from a few hours to two days after the procedure has been performed.

It can last for several days, or it can disappear within a few hours. The main cause of this headache is the leakage of spinal fluid into the surrounding tissues.

Lumbar Puncture Risk #2: Back Pain

In some cases, this procedure can cause back pain. After the procedure, you may feel tenderness or pain in your lower back that might extend down to the back of your legs, and this is nothing to be concerned about.

Lumbar Puncture Risk #3: Bleeding

Rarely, an injury to the blood vessels in the region around the spinal canal can occur when the needle is inserted. This might result in localized bleeding, and this is one of the rare lumbar puncture side effects.

Bleeding can also occur if the patient has a blood clotting disorder.

Lumbar Puncture Risk #4: Herniation

Intracranial pressure due to the presence of a tumor or other causes can cause a brainstem herniation. Extraction of a little CSF can increase the pressure on the brain, pressing it down towards the spinal cord. This is an extremely rare occurrence.

Tips To Prevent Lumbar Puncture Side Effects

  • Medical History: The patient needs to give his full medical history to the doctor before the procedure is done. This will ensure that the doctor knows if the patient has any medical conditions (like a blood clotting problem) before the Lumbar Puncture is performed.
  • Tests to Eliminate Possible Complications: Certain diagnostic procedures like a CT scan might be performed to identify any possible risk due to a preexisting condition. For instance, if there is a suspicion of a tumor in the region of the brain, a CT scan can help confirm or eliminate it. If a tumor is present, it increases the risk of brainstem herniation.
  • Medications: If the patient is taking anticoagulant or other blood thinner medications, it can increase the risk of post procedural bleeding.
  • Rest: Patients are often advised to rest for a few hours after a Lumbar Puncture has been performed. This can help reduce the chances of the patient experiencing a post lumbar puncture headache.

The lumbar puncture is a vital diagnostic tool for detecting critical disorders that are related to the central nervous system. It is a safe procedure, but occasionally, it can push up some complications. Taking a few precautions before and after the procedure can greatly help reduce the risk of lumbar puncture side effects.


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