Childr Health Information

Spinal tap

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Topic: Tests & Procedures

This handout was written to answer some of the questions most often asked about spinal taps. Please feel free to ask your doctor or nurse to go over any information you do not understand.

A spinal tap is when a small needle is placed into the spinal canal in the lower back area. It is done to measure the amount of pressure in the spinal canal, remove a small amount of fluid for examination and /or to deliver medication.

Your child may be given something to make him or her relax. At times, medications are given which cause your child to be sedated. Your child may or may not be asleep and may or may not be able to talk while sedated. In order to prepare your child for this test, he or she should not have anything to eat six (6) hours before the test or any formula four (4) hours before the test. Your child may have clear liquids up to two (2) hours prior to the test.

• One hour before the spinal tap, EMLA cream may be placed on your child’s back at the site where the needle will go in. This cream makes the skin numb so your child cannot feel the needle. If the spinal tap needs to done in an emergency, EMLA cream cannot be used.
• Your child will be taken to the treatment room.
• If conscious sedation medications are used to relax your child, your child’s heart rate and respiratory rate will be monitored on a machine.
• Your child will be asked to lie down on his or her side and “curl up in a ball.” The nurse will help hold your child to help remind him or her not to move. The doctor will feel your child’s back and choose the correct spot to insert the needle.
• The spot will be cleaned with a sterile sponge soaked in betadine. Drapes will be placed over your child’s back.
• The doctor will insert the needle into the spinal canal. Your child will feel pressure as the needle is put in.
• A small amount of clear fluid will drip out of the needle into sterile tubes.
• After the doctor has collected the fluid needed, he or she may insert chemotherapy into the needle. The needle will then be removed and a bandage will be placed over the site.

• Your child will be asked to lie flat in bed for about an hour to prevent him/her from getting a headache.
• If your child has received sedation medications, the nurse will continue to take frequent vital signs until your child is awake. When the sedation medication has worn off, your child will be able to eat.
• Keep the spinal tap site clean and dry. The bandage may be removed the next day.
• The doctor will explain the laboratory results to you and let you know what the plan of treatment will be as soon as the results are available.

PDF: Child Health Information - SPINAL TAP

Derechos de autor(c) de The Children's Medical Center, ano 1999. Este material unicamente tiene fines educativos. No puede ser reproducido, distribuido ni modificado sin previa autorizacion de The Children's Medical Center of Dayton, One Children's Plaza, Dayton, Ohio, 45404-1815. Llame al 937-641-3666 para solicitar autorizacion o para obtener un juego maestro para copias. Para obtener mas informacion puede visitar (consulte la seccion de informacion legal).

La informacion contenida en este material es unicamente informacion de tipo general. No debe considerarse como completa. Para obtener mas informacion acerca de los complementos para leche materna, por favor pidala a su doctor.
Preparado: 1999
Corregido: 2003

The information contained in this handout is for general information only and should not be considered complete. For specific information about bathing your baby, please ask your doctor or nurse practitioner.

Additional information may be located in the Family Resource Center, 2nd floor, near the Outpatient Surgery Center. Hours of the center vary; please contact the Family Resource Center at 937-641-3700.

Copyright(c) The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. This material is for educational purposes only. It cannot be reproduced or distributed without permission from Dayton Children's.
Formulated: 1999
Revised: 2003


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