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Lumbar puncture


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A lumbar puncture may be done to find out why you’re having certain symptoms, to treat some conditions, or to give an anaesthetic.

Before a lumbar puncture a doctor should talk to you about what happens and how to prepare.

During a lumbar puncture, a needle is inserted into your lower back so fluid can be taken for testing, or so you can have treatment or anaesthetic.

It can take a few days to recover from a lumbar puncture. You should rest for 24 hours afterwards and drink plenty of fluids.

Side effects of a lumbar puncture can include a headache, back pain, bleeding or fluid leaking from where the needle went into your back, and swelling

Complications of a lumbar puncture are rare but can include long-term back pain, infection, nerve damage or blood clots.

If you’re having a lumbar puncture to find out if you have a condition, you should get your results in a few days, but it can take a few weeks.

A lumbar puncture is where a needle is inserted into your lower back between the bones in your spine.

Page last reviewed: 14/11/2023
Next review due: 14/11/2026