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A lumbar puncture is a common medical procedure sometimes used in the diagnosis of childhood cancer. It is also called an “LP” or a “spinal tap.”
During the procedure, a doctor, nurse practitioner, or other qualified medical professional removes a small sample of fluid from around the spine using a thin needle.
The fluid is called cerebrospinal fluid or CSF. It surrounds and protects the brain and spinal cord. Testing the CSF can show if the patient has a disease or infection. The body makes CSF constantly. The patient’s body quickly replaces the small amount removed during the lumbar puncture.
Reviewed: June 2018