Medical procedure spinal tap also known as lumbar puncture is use as diagnosis tool. It gets some of the cerebrospinal fluid that is in the spinal cord and brain. This cerebrospinal fluid enclosed the brain as well as the spinal cord. It functions as shock absorber and it protects the brain from any sudden injury. The fluid lets the brain literally floats within the skull. This fluid helps in maintaining the chemical balance in the spinal cord as well as in the brain.
The fluid that is taken through spinal tap is diagnostically important. After drawing out this sample fluid it is then sent to the laboratory for analysis. At this time discoloration may happen to the fluid which can then point out to a specific or various conditions. It is also analyzed chemically to measure the lymphocyte, protein and glucose levels. This CSB fluid is also measured whenever intracranial pressure rises as a result of infection or inflammation. In not so many cases, spinal tap is use to remove some of the CSB fluid to relieve pressure.
When is Spinal Tap Needed?
A condition called meningitis is the most common reasons why a doctor will request you to have a spinal tap. Meningitis is a contagious disease and is characterized by an inflamed meninges or tissues that enclosed the spinal cord and the brain. This procedure might be requested too if there is a suspicion that an individual has hydrocephalus where there is an excess collection of cerebrospinal fluid in the cavities of the brain. This condition often leads to intracranial pressure inside your skull which may result to mental disability, seizures and even death. In this instance spinal tap is done to remove excess CSB fluid.
This diagnostic tool also aids in diagnosing subarachnoid hemorrhage which exhibits bleeding in the brain. Any pressure abnormalities in the CSB fluid can also determine conditions like multiple sclerosis, intracranial hypertension or tumors. Most of the time, this procedure is also use to inject specific drugs to the CSB fluid. A new study showed that spinal fluid test is one hundred percent accurate in finding the abnormal protein level of a patient who are having memory loss whose condition might develop Alzheimer’s disease. This method can help a patient determine Alzheimer’s long before the patient exhibits any symptoms (Archives of Neurology 2010).
Spinal Tap Side Effects
Even if this diagnostic procedure is very useful, still it carries with it some side effects. Read further to know the complications it may bring.
The common spinal tap side effects include headaches, back pain and fever. Mostly the pain is felt at the front of the head or at the base of the skull. Removal of this fluid can often result to headache because of a leakage in cerebrospinal fluid through a punctured hole. When there is a leakage it can affect the pressure around the spinal cord and the brain. With the changes in the pressure the brain might send out pain messages thus the headache.
To treat the leakage problem, a patient’s blood may be injected to the punctured site and when the blood clots into the punctured site then the leakage stops and this again will bring balance to the pressure within the spinal cord and brain. Some rare cases but very serious spinal tap side effects are the formation of subarachnoid cyst, epidermoid cyst or bleeding inside the brain.