A lumbar puncture, otherwise known as a spinal tap, is a medical procedure that involves removing a small sample of spinal fluid from the lower back. This invasive procedure is performed on an outpatient basis. The spine and brain are surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). When a lumbar puncture is done, the doctor will insert a hollow needle through the patient's skin and into the lower back. This needle is guided between the patient's vertebrae until it reaches their spinal canal.
The spinal fluid that is removed can then be tested to detect any changes. Certain changes commonly occur in the spinal fluid of Guillain-Barre syndrome patients. The doctor may also test for other nerve-related disorders to rule them out. There are other reasons a lumbar puncture is one. One is so that the spinal fluid pressure can be measured to make sure that hydrocephalus has not occurred. Another is to numb the spine with an anesthetic.
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