Myelogram/Lumbar Puncture

Q: How long will it take?
A: Myelogram: 30 minutes for registration; 60 minutes for brief history and physical exam and placement of IV; 30-60 minutes for the myelogram and CT; and 3-4 hours for recovery.
Lumbar Puncture: 30 minutes for registration; 30 minutes for a lumbar puncture; and 60 minutes for recovery.

If you have had surgery in the area of the puncture, it may take longer.

Q: Will the procedure hurt?
A: The local anesthetic will sting a bit before going numb. You may feel sharp pressure for an instant when the procedure needle is inserted.

Q: Is the procedure safe?
A: Yes. The likelihood of a complication requiring hospitalization is less than 1 in a hundred (<1%).

Q: How much radiation is involved?
A: 4 milliSieverts, or the same as background exposure living on Earth for 16 months, and much less for a lumbar puncture.

Q: What kind of anesthetic is used?
A: Local anesthetic, typically Xylocaine 2%.

Q: Should I take my daily medication?
A: Yes, unless you are on a medication for seizures or a blood thinner like Coumadin, aspirin, or Plavix. If you take anti-depressant medications or medicines to control seizures, they should be stopped for the two days prior and one day following the procedure because these medications can elevate your seizure risk during myelography. This increased risk is not present for lumbar punctures.

If you take blood thinners, they should be stopped for 5 days prior to your procedure and can be re-started the evening or morning after the procedure, at the time that you normally take it.

Q: When will I know the results?
A: The physician who requested the procedure will notify you of the results, what they mean, and the treatment plan, if any. The report and diagnostic information from the procedure is usually available within 24-48 hours by the requesting physician.

Q: What should I watch for when I return home?

  • Headache: The most common complaint. Worsened by sitting or standing upright, physical activity, dehydration. Will be less severe and likely resolve faster if you lie flat for at least 24-48 hours, getting up to use the bathroom or eat and if you drink at least 64 ounces of non-caffeinated liquids daily for 2 days. However, your usual morning coffee is OK.
  • Nausea: Usually resolves when lying flat and staying well-hydrated as above.

*PLEASE NOTE: If you experience temperature greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, numbness in the legs or bottom, trouble moving bowels or bladder: Call our office at 404-352-1409 with your name, date of birth, date of your procedure, medication allergies, a number where you can be reached, and the phone number of a pharmacy if we need to call in a prescription. If you cannot reach someone within 1 hour, have someone drive you to the emergency room, preferably at a Piedmont Healthcare facility.

Q: Is the test covered by insurance?
A: Yes.