Spinal Tap (Lumbar Puncture) for Children Questions and Answers
Does your child need a spinal tap (lumbar puncture) done? If so, then you might want to know what to expect and how to help your child prepare for the procedure and recover. Nightlite Pediatrics would like to help. We promise, a spinal tap isn’t nearly as difficult for a child as you might be thinking! Call us now. We serve patients from Greater Orlando, Jacksonville, Melbourne and Port St Lucie.
What is a spinal tap (lumbar puncture)?
It’s a somewhat common medical test that involves taking a small sample of cerebrospinal fluid for examination. The fluid is located in the spine. Despite this, though, the procedure isn’t very uncomfortable for a child.
The procedure is done to either detect or rule out certain suspected diseases or conditions in the central nervous system. Commonly, a spinal tap is done to check for meningitis, but one can also be done to detect bleeding in the brain or some conditions like multiple sclerosis or Guillain-Barré syndrome. Sometimes a spinal tap is done to deliver chemotherapeutic medication.
How do you prepare for a spinal tap procedure?
You can expect a spinal tap appointment to take about 30 minutes. You can tell your child they probably won’t feel any pain during the procedure but may feel a brief pinch and some minor discomfort. While the test may be a bit uncomfortable, it shouldn’t be painful and won’t take long. You should also explain to your child that it’s important for them to stay still during the procedure and that a nurse might help keep your child still. Spinal taps are very safe procedures with minimal risks.
How does a spinal tap work?
When it’s time for your child’s procedure, the process will be explained to you and your child, and you’ll be asked to sign an informed consent form. Then the doctor performing the procedure might ask about any allergies your child has to any medicines. It may be possible for you to stay in the room with your child during the procedure, or you can wait in the waiting area.
During the procedure, your child may be positioned in a certain way to make it easier for the doctor to perform the procedure. Then your child’s back will be cleansed with an antiseptic, the site may be numbed with a cream, and liquid anaesthetic will be injected into the site. After, a thin needle will be inserted into the lower spine to collect a fluid sample, and the cerebrospinal fluid will drip out into collection tubes. After this, a bandage will be placed on the site, and the doctor might recommend your child lie on their back for a few hours.
Your child might experience some tiredness and have a mild backache the day after the procedure, but that’s about it. Just make sure your child rests, and follow any other instructions the doctor provided! Your child will recover quickly.
How can I learn more about the spinal tap (lumbar puncture) for children or get the procedure for my child?
You can contact us here at Night Lite Pediatrics if you have any questions for us at all. We’ll happily answer them. You can also contact us if your child needs a spinal tap, as we’re able to provide it here at our clinic. We have multiple locations in Greater Orlando and beyond, so please see our Locations page for the one nearest you, then call us at that location to learn more or to book with us.
We hope you found our Q&A on spinal taps useful, and we look forward to speaking with you soon!