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A lumbar puncture is a common procedure sometimes used in the diagnosis of childhood cancer and other childhood diseases and infections. It is also called an LP or a spinal tap.
During the procedure, a member of your health care team 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.
If your child is awake, they may feel a small pinch and some discomfort where the needle is inserted. Some people say the lumbar puncture procedure is not painful.
Talk to your health care team about when and how you will receive results.
Your child may stay lying in bed for 30 minutes or more after this procedure. They may also be given water or something else to drink. This helps to prevent headaches, which is a common side effect after this procedure
You can remove your child’s bandage after 24 hours.
Talk to your health care team about any pain medications your child can take for soreness. Watch your child for signs of infection, including:
If your child shows signs of infection, contact your health care team right away.
Reviewed: August 2022