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Lumbar puncture/myelography

A lumbar puncture (also known as a spinal tap) is a minimally-invasive, image-guided diagnostic test in which a small amount of the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord is removed for testing for bacterial, fungal, or viral infection, brain hemorrhage, inflammatory diseases, and certain cancers. In cases where excess fluid has accumulated, a lumbar puncture can be performed to remove excess fluid to relieve pressure. It can also be used to administer specific drugs involved in chemotherapy.

Myelography is a specialized, highly detailed x-ray examination in which a contrast material is injected into the space around the spinal cord and nerve roots to diagnose and treat medical conditions related to the spinal cord, nerve roots, and the surrounding membranes, called the meninges.

Your MIT radiologist will apply local anesthesia and, when warranted, something to ease any anxiety. In spite of the name “lumbar puncture” (which sounds pretty scary), the doctors and staff of MIT make the process simple and easy, with minimal discomfort.