Q. I had a lumbar puncture to collect some cerebrospinal fluid. When will I recover?

Answered by
Dr. Zubayeralam
and medically reviewed by Dr. K Shobana
This is a premium question & answer published on Jul 25, 2021 and last reviewed on: Aug 19, 2021

Hi doctor,

I had a lumbar puncture done this morning to find an opening that was 12.2 and to collect specimens with spinal fluid. The doctor told me to sit upright. She did the preparation work. Then she inserted the first needle to freeze the lumbar region. Then she inserted a second needle. I began to feel nauseous and sweated. I thought that I would pass away. Then they laid me down on the side. Then she proceeded further. It took around twenty minutes to collect the specimen. She told me that it was slow and coming in drips. She used four vials. Is this normal? Do you think that I will become fine soon? I am so upset.



Welcome to

Thank you for the query. I can understand your concern. According to your statement, you had a lumbar puncture done this morning in the opening which was 12.2. I think that you want to tell about the opening pressure of CSF (cerebrospinal fluid). The initial pressure of CSF is 70-180 mm. The sufferings that you got during your lumbar puncture procedure are collectively known as lumbar puncture-induced side effects or sufferings. Headache is the most common side effect or complication of lumbar puncture and up to 25% of patients will get headaches. The other side effects are feeling unwell or nausea, sweating, fainting, hemorrhage, and infections. I think that your doctor's procedure of lumbar puncture was correct and the whole procedure will take some time. The procedure was right. Now, it is important to know the results of the lumbar puncture which was done. Take care. In case of any other query ask me.

Thank you doctor,

I have attached the results. Can you tell me what do they mean? My red blood count remains high.



Welcome back to

Thank you for the query. According to your CSF study reports, WBC and differential counts of WBC are normal, the appearance remains clear and colorless, and your value of RBC is 1.29 million cells/ml. But Xanthochromia is absent. Red blood cells (RBC) are not present normally in CSF. The presence of RBC may indicate a traumatic tap that can cause blood leakage into CSF during the procedure of collection or indicates bleeding into CSF due to SAH (subarachnoid hemorrhage).

SAH can be differentiated from the traumatic lumbar puncture by comparing RBC counts of the first and last CSF tubes collected during CSF collection procedure. In a traumatic tap or traumatic lumbar puncture, the RBC count of the last tube will be lower but on the other hand, in SAH, the RBC remains constantly elevated.

There is no other study found that suggests the presence of a lower limit of RBC count in CSF indicates a positive tap. For this reason, the most reliable method of differentiating SAH from a traumatic tap is the presence of Xanthochromia that is caused by the production of RBCs and the release of heme pigments. The presence of xanthochromia in the CSF indicates SAH rather than traumatic lumbar tap. As Xanthochromia is absent in your CSF, so the presence of RBC in the CSF may result from a traumatic tap during the procedure of CSF collection. So, do not be worried. Take care. Let me know if I can assist you further.

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