First Time User? Enroll now.
*Vaccine availability and appointments* | Visitor and mask policies | Additional COVID-19 resources.
Home > Health Library > Lumbar puncture
A lumbar puncture is a procedure in which a needle is inserted into the spinal canal to measure the pressure and obtain a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the colorless fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. The procedure may also be used to inject anesthetics, medicine, or a contrast dye (for spinal X-rays) into the spinal fluid or to drain fluids that accumulate as a result of certain medical conditions.
Fluid samples obtained from a lumbar puncture can be analyzed for signs of infection (such as meningitis), inflammation, cancer, or bleeding in the area around the brain or spinal cord.
A lumbar puncture is also sometimes called a spinal tap.
Current as of: December 9, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2020 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.