Tests and Procedures

Lumbar puncture (spinal tap)

How you prepare

Before your lumbar puncture, your doctor, nurse or other health care professional asks questions about your medical history, does a physical exam, and orders blood tests to check for bleeding or clotting disorders. Your doctor may also recommend a CT scan or MRI to determine if you have any abnormal swelling in or around your brain.

Food and medications

Your health care professional will give you specific instructions about food, drink and medications.

Tell your doctor or nurse if you're taking blood-thinning or other anticoagulant medications. Examples include warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven), clopidogrel (Plavix), and some over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve). Also, tell your doctor or nurse if you're allergic to any medications, such as numbing medications (local anesthetics).