Lumbar puncture preparation involves following a few basic safety measures. If you remember these basic precautions, you can greatly reduce the risk of facing any adverse lumbar puncture side effects after the test is carried out.
During the procedure, the patient will be required to lie down with the knees pulled up against the chest, or sit on the edge of a chair and lean forward. Either way, the intent is to expose the lumbar region (lower back).
The doctor will then clean and disinfect a small area to insert the spinal needle. A local anesthetic will first be applied to the area, and then a hollow needle will be inserted into the spinal canal in order to extract some Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF).
The Basics On Lumbar Puncture Preparation
A Lumbar Puncture is basically a diagnostic procedure, but in some situations, it might serve other functions. It is mainly used to diagnose neurological disorders and infections like meningitis that affect the nervous system.
This is a safe procedure and seldom results in any complications, and to reduce your risks further, you must take certain precautions. Your physician will have the authority to advise some precautions. Here are a few lumbar puncture preparation tips that you should remember:
- You must inform your doctor of any pre-existing medical conditions like problems related to blood clotting.
- You must inform your doctor if you are allergic to any medicines, such as certain anesthetics.
- If you take any anticoagulant medicine or other blood thinners like aspirin, inform your doctor of this, before the procedure.
- If you take any herbal remedies, you must tell your doctor what these are. Some herbal remedies can act as blood thinners.
- If you are pregnant, or suspect that you might be pregnant, inform your doctor.
Mandatory Steps Before Lumbar Puncture
During the lumbar puncture preparation phase, you will be asked to sign a consent form that details the risks involved. If you have any concerns about these, you should discuss them with your doctor.
Also, before the procedure starts, you will have to empty your bladder. The hospital staff will remind you about this an hour before the procedure.
Other Lumbar Puncture Preparation Tips
- The patient should avoid eating or drinking up to four hours before the procedure is scheduled.
- The patient must come prepared to stay in bed-rest for 24 hours after a lumbar puncture.
- The patient should be in a relaxed frame of mind before the procedure. This results in reduced muscular tension, making it easier for the needle to pass through the tissues to the spinal canal.
Sometimes, additional procedures like a CT scan might be necessary before a lumbar puncture. If there are any indications that a patient might have a tumor or swelling in the region of the brain, a CT scan should be performed. This will confirm or eliminate the existence of any inflammation, tumor or other growth in or around the brain.
If such a problem exists, a lumbar puncture test might result in increased intracranial pressure, and for this reason, a doctor might explore possible alternative procedures to avoid a lumbar puncture.
Lumbar puncture preparation is easy as long as the doctor’s instructions are followed. Remember the points listed above, and you should be easily able to avoid any complications.