Lumbar Puncture (Spinal Tap) In Children - All You Need To Know

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Is your child suffering from unexplained seizures? Is your dear little one down with an infection? Do you want to know the exact cause of the infection and health problems of your child? Chances are, you said yes, then lumbar puncture or spinal tap can help detect the infection and figure out the exact cause of seizures. What is a lumbar puncture? How can it help? Read our post to learn everything about lumbar puncture in children here.

What Is Lumbar Puncture?

Lumbar puncture, also popular as the spinal tap, is a medical procedure that doctors use to evaluate cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). During the lumbar puncture, the doctor inserts a needle in the lower back of the child to obtain a sample of CSF that is present adjacent to the spine and brain. The doctor inserts the needle in between 3rd and 4th lumbar vertebrae. However, the needle doesn’t reach the spinal cord, so the technique is quite safe (1).

How Can Spinal Tap Be Helpful To Doctors?

Doctors recommend spinal tap to find the underlying cause of a health problem in an affected child. Here are some benefits of spinal tap that doctors find highly useful in deciding the right line of treatment.

  • Detection of infection of a lining or spinal fluid in the brain, such as bacterial infection in the spinal fluid. Usually, the spinal tap detects meningitis in children.
  • Detection of unexplained seizures in children.
  • Examination of bleeding near the child’s brain, such as subarachnoid hemorrhage or presence of small quantity of blood in the spinal fluid.
  • Evaluation of uncommon disorders, such as Guillain- Barré syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and other health disorders.
  • Administration of certain chemotherapeutics medicines to treat certain kinds of cancers in kids.

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How Does Doctor Perform Lumbar Puncture In Children?

Here is a list of steps that explain how doctors perform a spinal tap in children.

  1. Initially, the doctor may introduce a local anesthetic patch on the child’s skin to numb the area of the body in which needle will operate. In 30 to 60 minutes, the patch will work. Or else, the doctor may give the child injection of a local anesthesia.
  1. Doctors make the child lie curled up on either side with his knees curled up under the chin.
  1. During the lumbar puncture procedure, it is important to ensure that the child does not move. So doctor instructs the child not to move, or the nurse will hold the child gently yet firmly.
  1. Then the doctor cleans up the skin of the lower back of the child and then inserts the needle carefully.
  1. Doctor collects the drops of spinal fluid in small tubes and then removes the needle (2).

How Can You Help During The Lumbar Puncture Test?

  • If your child inquiries about the test, explain it to her.
  • Be comforting so that she feels relaxed.
  • Reassure her that the test will be over soon and nothing will happen to her.

[ Read: Broken Tailbone In Children ]

Treatment To Follow After Lumbar Puncture:

If your child complains headaches or any other trouble after lumbar puncture, you need to follow certain treatment (3).

1. Let The Child Rest:

If your child suffers from a sore back or headache, tell your child to relax so that the post-spinal tap effects alleviates.

2. Medications:

If the headache persists for long, consult the doctor for appropriate medications. The doctor may prescribe mild painkillers, such as Paracetamol. Follow the prescribed dose and instructions while giving Paracetamol to your child (4).

Hope our information helped you know about lumbar puncture procedure in children. Did your child undergo lumbar puncture at any time? How did you help your child during the process? Tell us. Share your experience with other moms here. Leave a comment below.

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