Spinal/Lumbar Puncture

Learn More About Spinal/Lumbar Puncture

A lumbar puncture uses a thin, hollow needle and a special form of real-time x-ray called fluoroscopy to remove a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid for lab analysis. It also may be used to deliver an injection of chemotherapy or other medication into the lower spinal column.

How Should I Prepare?

Prior to your procedure, your blood may be tested to determine how well your kidneys are functioning and whether your blood clots normally.

This test will also help detect signs of increased intracranial pressure which should be detected prior to performing the lumbar puncture with computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). You may also have a CT scan prior to the lumbar puncture to determine if there is abnormal swelling in and/or around your brain called hydrocephalus.

You should report to your doctor all medications that you are taking, including herbal supplements, and if you have any allergies, especially to local anesthetic medications or to general anesthesia. Your physician may advise you to stop taking aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or a blood thinner for a specified period of time before your procedure.

You should tell your doctor if you are taking blood-thinning medications.  Also inform your doctor about recent illnesses or other medical conditions.

You will likely be instructed not to eat or drink anything after midnight before your procedure. Your doctor will tell you which medications you may take in the morning.

You should plan to have a relative or friend drive you home after your procedure.

You will be given a gown to wear during the procedure.

When Will I Receive Results?

Following the procedure, one of our board-certified Radiologists will interpret your exam and send a report to your physician within 5 business days. Contact your referring physician for any information pertaining to the findings.

Make An Appointment

Typically your referring physician will schedule an appointment for you. If you have been asked to schedule the appointment yourself, please have your physician’s order and any pre-authorization information required by your insurance or health plan provider in hand, and call 850-878-4127.

What Should I Expect?

You will feel a slight pin prick when the needle is inserted into your vein for the intravenous line (IV) and when the local anesthetic is injected. Most of the sensation is at the skin incision site which is numbed using local anesthetic. You may feel pressure when the catheter is inserted into the vein or artery.

You will be asked to remain very still during the procedure. A nurse or technician may help children stay still by holding them in place during the procedure. Children may also receive a sedative to help them stay comfortable and still.

You should plan to lay on your back and rest the day following your procedure.

Some patients develop a headache after a lumbar puncture that begins several hours or up to two days after the procedure. In addition to significant head pain, the headache may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting and dizziness and can last from a few hours to a week or more. You also may feel pain and tenderness in your lower back, which may radiate down your legs.

A pain-relieving medication such as acetaminophen can help reduce headache or back pain following the procedure. If your headache is severe, you should contact your doctor.


Interventional Radiology is an area of radiology that specializes in performing minimally invasive, image-guided procedures. Many of these procedures have become the treatment of choice in many cases because they offer lower risk, less pain, and shorter recovery time compared to traditional surgical techniques.

For more information on this and other radiology procedures, please visit www.radiologyinfo.org.