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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 31, 2022.

What do I need to know about a cisternogram?

A cisternogram is a test used to look for problems in the way your cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) circulates. CSF is the fluid that flows through the subarachnoid space (space that surrounds your brain and spinal cord). This test is also known as a nuclear medicine scan, CSF flow scan, intrathecal scan, and RHISA scan.

How do I prepare for a cisternogram?

You do not have to do anything to prepare for the scan. You may eat, drink fluids, and take any medicines that you take regularly.

What will happen during a cisternogram?

Your healthcare provider will first do a lumbar puncture. Medicine will be given to numb the site of your lumbar puncture. Then your healthcare provider will inject a substance called a radioactive tracer into your subarachnoid space. You will need to lie flat in bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay to get up. A scan will be taken 2 to 6 hours later. Several pictures are taken during your scan to show how the tracer flows with the CSF. Scans may be done again at 24 hours, 48 hours, and even 72 hours after the tracer is given. Each scan takes about 1 hour.

What are the risks of a cisternogram?

The site of your lumbar puncture could become red, swollen, painful, or infected. Sometimes a lumbar puncture causes a headache. There may be bleeding into the spinal canal. You may develop meningitis or herniation of brain tissue. Meningitis is inflammation of the lining that surrounds and protects your brain and spinal cord. Rarely, a person might get a rash, swelling, or a serious allergic reaction to the tracer.

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Further information

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