Lumbar Puncture

What is a Lumbar Puncture?

A lumbar puncture, also known as a spinal tap, is a test to evaluate the fluid (cerebrospinal fluid) surrounding your brain and spinal cord. This is done by inserting a needle into lumbar (small of the back) portion of your back. Franklin Moser, MD, Director of Neuroradiology, heads our team of imaging physicians, nurses and technologists who specialize in this procedure.

Why is a Lumbar Puncture Done?

A lumbar puncture is most commonly peformed to diagnose a disease. It can also be done to treat diseases. For example, as a way of administering antibiotics, cancer drugs, or anesthetic agents into the spinal canal. Spinal fluid is sometimes removed by lumbar puncture for the purpose of decreasing spinal fluid pressure in patients with uncommon conditions.

How is a Lumbar Puncture Performed?

The patient is typically lying down sideways for the procedure. Less often, the procedure is performed while the patient is sitting up.

After local anesthesia is injected into the small of the back (the lumbar area), a needle is inserted in between the nearby bony building blocks (vertebrae) into the spinal canal. (The needle is usually placed between the 3rd and 4th lumbar vertebrae).

Spinal fluid pressure can then be measured and cerebrospinal fluid removed for testing.

Before, During and After the Procedure

The S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center provides a full range of advanced imaging, both radiology and cardiology, as well as interventional radiology and interventional tumor (oncology) treatments to the greater Los Angeles area, including Beverly Hills, Encino, Mid-Cities, Sherman Oaks, Silver Lake, Studio City, Toluca Lake, and West Hollywood.