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Lumbar Drain Placement


Lumbar drain placement is a procedure to place a small tube in your lower back and into your spinal column to drain or collect cerebral spinal fluid (CSF).


The week before your procedure:

  • Arrange to have someone drive you home when you are discharged from the hospital.
  • Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines you currently take. Be sure to include medicines that increase your risk for bleeding, such as aspirin, clot busters, or blood thinners. He or she will tell you if you need to stop any medicine for the procedure, and when to stop. He or she will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of the procedure.
  • Tell your provider if you have a blood disorder or ever had a bleeding problem.
  • You may need blood tests, x-rays, a CT scan, or an MRI. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about these and other tests that you may need.

The night before your procedure:

Your healthcare provider will tell you if you can have food or liquid before the procedure.

The day of your procedure:

  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives healthcare providers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
  • Take only the medicines your healthcare provider told you to take.
  • An IV will be put into a vein. You may be given medicine or liquid through the IV.
  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you before the procedure. You will need medicine to numb the procedure area. Tell healthcare providers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia.


What will happen:

  • You will lie on your side or sit up. If you are on your side, you will pull your knees your chest and tuck your neck. If you are sitting, you will bend forward with your neck tucked. You will be given a shot of numbing medicine and a needle will be put in your lower back. A catheter (small tube) is pushed through the needle into your spinal column. Then the needle is taken out and the catheter stays in.
  • Stitches will be placed in your skin to keep the catheter in place. A bandage will be placed over the area. The catheter will be connected to a container to collect the CSF. The drain will stay in place approximately 5 days, or until your symptoms improve. It will be removed before you leave the hospital.

After your procedure:

You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. Healthcare providers will monitor you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. When your healthcare provider sees that you are okay, you will be taken to a hospital room.


  • You have a fever, a cold, or the flu.
  • You have questions or concerns about your procedure.


You may get a headache that gets worse when you sit or stand. There may be damage to your nerves or spine. You could have bleeding into your brain or spinal column and you may need surgery to treat it. You may get an infection at the incision site or a more serious infection, such as meningitis (inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord). Your brain could drop downward. This can lead to severe brain damage and be life-threatening.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.