Since its description in the late 1800s (1, 2), the spinal tap, or lumbar puncture, has become a mainstay of neurologic diagnosis. As with other body fluids, examination of the cerebrospinal fluid has a number of applications. Because only a few applications yield a precise diagnosis, the lumbar puncture is most useful when cerebrospinal fluid patterns are related to clinical findings.
The basic techniques for doing the lumbar puncture have been well described (3, 4) and include several important components. Patient reassurance and proper positioning are important. The most commonly used cerebrospinal fluid tests include cell count (both total
The Diagnostic Spinal Tap. Ann Intern Med. ;104:880–885. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-104-6-880
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 1986;104(6):880-885.
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