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Lumbar Puncture In Children


Lumbar puncture (LP) is a procedure in which a needle is inserted in your child's back and into his spinal canal. This may be done to collect cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to check for an infection, inflammation, bleeding, or other conditions that affect the brain. CSF is a clear, protective fluid that flows around the brain and inside the spinal canal. LP may also be done to remove CSF and reduce pressure in the brain.



  • Ibuprofen or acetaminophen: These medicines are given to decrease your child's pain and fever. They can be bought without a doctor's order. Ask how much medicine is safe to give your child, and how often to give it.
  • Pain medicine: Your child may need medicine to take away or decrease pain. Know how often your child should get the medicine and how much. Watch for signs of pain in your child. Tell caregivers if his pain continues or gets worse. To prevent falls, stay with your child to help him get out of bed.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
  • Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age: Your child could develop Reye's syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye's syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Post-lumbar puncture headache:

Your child may develop a headache during the first few hours after his LP that may last for several days. The headache may be mild to severe and may get worse when he sits or stands. The following may help ease a post-lumbar puncture headache:

  • Have your child drink plenty of liquids: Your child may need to drink more liquid than usual after his LP. Caffeine may be used to treat a headache. Ask about using caffeine to treat your child's headache.
  • Have your child lie down: If your child has a headache after his lumbar puncture, it may be helpful for him to lie down and rest.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your child has a severe headache that does not get better after he lies down.
  • Your child has vision or hearing problems, such as blurred or double vision, dizziness, or ringing in his ears.
  • Your child has nausea, vomiting, or is dizzy.
  • Your child is irritable and crying more than usual.
  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has a stiff neck or has trouble thinking clearly.
  • Your child's legs, feet, or other parts below the waist feel numb, tingly, or weak.
  • Your child has bleeding or discharge coming from the area where the needle was put into his back.
  • Your child has a severe pain in his back or neck.

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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.