Diagnostic Lumbar Puncture

Ulster Med J. 2014 May;83(2):93-102.


Diagnostic Lumbar Puncture is one of the most commonly performed invasive tests in clinical medicine. Evaluation of an acute headache and investigation of inflammatory or infectious disease of the nervous system are the most common indications. Serious complications are rare, and correct technique will minimise diagnostic error and maximise patient comfort. We review the technique of diagnostic Lumbar Puncture including anatomy, needle selection, needle insertion, measurement of opening pressure, Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) specimen handling and after care. We also make some quality improvement suggestions for those designing services incorporating diagnostic Lumbar Puncture.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Spinal Puncture / methods*