Lumbar Puncture X-ray

A lumbar puncture is a procedure that uses X-ray guidance to assist in the removal of a sample of spinal fluid for analysis.

Preparation for Your Exam

Do not eat any solid foods after 9 pm on the evening before your procedure. You may have clear liquids until three hours before your appointment.

You may take your routine medications on the day of the procedure.

If back pain is a problem for you, you may take your usual pain medication in preparation for the procedure.

If you are coming as an outpatient, make arrangements for someone to drive you home after the procedure. You may not drive home yourself.

During the Exam

When you arrive in the radiology department, you will be placed on your stomach on the X-ray table. Please let us know if you feel that this position will be difficult for you. (A lumbar puncture takes between a half hour and an hour to complete.)

A small area on your back will be washed and a local anesthetic will be injected to make the area numb. The local anesthetic may sting for a few moments. After that you should be quite comfortable.

Next, a needle will be placed into an area near your spine. A small sample of spinal fluid will be taken, and then the needle will be withdrawn. A bandage will be placed over the site. (The fluid sample will be sent to a laboratory for analysis.)

After the Exam

After the procedure, you'll lie on your back for one hour. The nurse will assist you with a bedpan or urinal during this time if necessary.

You may eat or drink as you like.

Be sure to let your nurse know if you experience a headache, leg pain or backache.

How Do I Care for Myself at Home?

When you are discharged, you must travel with a companion and may not drive. When you arrive home, we suggest that you rest and limit your activity. If you have small children, arrange for someone to care for them. If you have a headache, take two Tylenol tablets (325 mg each) every four hours as needed. If a headache or nausea persists, contact your personal physician.

Getting Your Results

Your physician will receive the results of the spinal fluid analysis within a few days and will discuss these results with you.

Making an Appointment

When you call, we'll ask you for basic information such as your Social Security number. We'll ask you what type of test you need to schedule, and will schedule you for the best possible time. If you need to reschedule your exam, you can call us back and we'll be happy to arrange a better time for you.

When you call to schedule your exam, we'll also give you important information about preparing for the exam. If your doctor has scheduled the exam for you, and you have questions regarding the preparation or the procedure itself, you can call the imaging department where your procedure is being performed (please refer to our 'Locations' page for exact phone numbers).

Your physician will have several tasks to perform:

Complete the necessary paperwork to order the test (similar to writing a prescription for medication)

Fax, mail, or place the order in our computer system

Call us to schedule a test for you or have your physician call us directly

Obtaining Your Images

Exam Image Availability

DRC's state-of-the-art PACS technology offers you immediate access to the images of your radiologic exam. No longer does your physician have to wait to have copies of your films made. Although we can still print your X-ray on film for you with just 24 hours notice, your physician can now review your exam images immediately via the Internet. We offer safe and secure web access for your physician through Specialty Networks. Your privacy and HIPAA compliance is assured.

Images on a CD

If your physician prefers, the digital images from your study can be written to a CD-ROM, giving him/her a permanent record that can be accessed easily and quickly via a computer. CDs hold multiple studies and take up significantly less space than the traditional film in the brown envelope. A 24-hour notice is also requested to create this digital record for you.

Versatile Image Viewing Options

Internet access to your studies for your doctor is available immediately after your pictures are taken. Copies of your images can be obtained on a CD or on film with 24 hours notice.

Both Internet and CD viewing offer your physician the ability to digitally adjust your images in ways not possible with traditional X-ray film. Using the computer, the image can be made lighter or darker or zoomed for better visualization of a particular portion, for example. Your physician can fine-tune the images to accommodate his or her preferences.

Obtaining Copies of Your Images

To receive a CD or film copies of exam images, please follow these steps:

1. Call the location where your examination was performed (please refer to the locations page). Please provide your name and other identifying information along with the study being requested. With 24 hours notice, we can either create a CD-ROM or print a film for you. Our representative at the imaging center will provide you with the times available to pick up the exam.

2. To protect your privacy, please be sure to bring a picture ID when you pick up your CD/films, you will have to sign a Medical Images Release form when receiving your CD/films. If anyone else picks up your CD/films for you, please be sure to give him or her your written authorization to release your information to him or her.

3. If you would like us to send a copy of your study to a physician outside the DRC system, we will need a signed release from you along with the study you would like sent and the receiving doctor's name and address. You can fax or deliver us that release in the form of a signed letter at the fax number listed on the locations page. Please allow us plenty of time to send your films.

Any Costs

Currently the first set of films is provided at no cost to the patient. There is no charge for CD-ROM's and, of course, the Internet is always free.