Preparing for a Spinal Tap

How To Prepare For A Spinal Tap

Spinal TapSpinal taps (or lumbar punctures) have a negative reputation in the community. This is because the procedure is most often done under less than ideal conditions in an emergency setting for various serious conditions. The physicians at the IMSMP perform hundreds of spinal taps per year under very different circumstances. The environment is calming, the nurse and physician explain the procedure in detail, and take a great deal of time to ensure the comfort of our patient. Additionally, we always use an extremely thin, specially ordered needle. This reduces discomfort as well as the incidence of a 'post-lp headache'. In fact, the risk of experiencing this headache is 1% when performed by an IMSMP neurologist.


Here are some additional points to assist in preparing you for an LP:

  • Inform your doctor or a nurse if you take aspirin, NSAIDS (i.e. ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil, Aleve, Naprosyn, etc…) or any “blood thinners” (such as Coumadin) at least a week prior to your scheduled procedure.
  • Arrange for someone to accompany you home after the procedure.
  • There are no dietary restrictions; you may eat prior to coming into the office.
  • Although the procedure is generally quick, time will be needed for discussion and proper setup. Additionally, to prevent the occurrence of a post-spinal tap headache, you will be asked to lie flat in the office for one hour afterward.
  • Once you are back at home, you should lie down for the remainder of the day. You may get up for meals and to use the bathroom.
  • You should avoid exercise, heavy lifting, or any strenuous activity for at least 24 hours following your lumbar puncture.
  • If you have any additional questions, please call the office at (212) 265-8070 and ask to speak to a nurse.


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