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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:

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your procedure.
  • Arrange a ride home. Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself home.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
  • Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your healthcare provider. Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your provider if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you have a blood disorder or have had a bleeding problem in the past.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you are taking any medicine that may make you more likely to bleed. This includes aspirin, clot busters, or blood thinners.
  • You may need blood tests, x-rays, or other tests. Brain imaging tests, such as a CT scan or an MRI, may also be done. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about these and other tests that you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.

The night before your procedure:

Ask healthcare providers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your procedure:

  • Ask your healthcare provider before taking any medicine on the day of your procedure. These medicines include insulin, diabetic pills, high blood pressure pills, or heart pills. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital.
  • 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.
  • Healthcare providers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell healthcare providers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.


What will happen:

  • You will lie on your side or sit up. If you are on your side, you will need to bend your knees and move them close to your chest. Your neck should be tucked toward your chest. If you are sitting, you will bend forward with your neck tucked toward your chest. 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.

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 your hospital room.


  • You cannot make it to your procedure.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have a cold or the flu.
  • You have questions or concerns about your procedure.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • The problems for which you are having the procedure get worse.


  • 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 herniate (drop downward), which can lead to severe brain damage and be life-threatening.
  • Without treatment, your signs and symptoms may get worse and may become 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.