Preventing Post-Lumbar Puncture Headache

Ann Emerg Med. 2021 Sep;78(3):443-450. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2021.02.019. Epub 2021 May 7.


Post-lumbar puncture headache is the main adverse event from lumbar puncture and occurs in 3.5% to 33% of patients, causing functional and socio-professional disability. We searched the post-lumbar puncture headache literature and, based on this review and personal expertise, identified and addressed 19 frequently asked questions regarding post-lumbar puncture headache risk factors and prevention. Among the nonmodifiable factors, older age is associated with a lower incidence of post-lumbar puncture headache, while female sex, lower body mass index, and history of headache might be associated with increased risk. The use of atraumatic, noncutting needles is the most effective intervention for post-lumbar puncture headache prevention. These needles are not more difficult to use than cutting needles. Other commonly recommended measures (eg, fluid supplementation, caffeine) appear unhelpful, and some (eg, bed rest) may worsen post-lumbar puncture headache.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Needles / adverse effects
  • Needles / classification*
  • Post-Dural Puncture Headache / etiology
  • Post-Dural Puncture Headache / prevention & control*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Spinal Puncture / adverse effects
  • Spinal Puncture / methods*