When is lumbar puncture indicated in the workup of sepsis/septic shock and how should the procedure be performed?

Updated: Oct 07, 2020
  • Author: Andre Kalil, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Michael R Pinsky, MD, CM, Dr(HC), FCCP, FAPS, MCCM  more...
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Answer

A lumbar puncture (spinal fluid test) is indicated when there is clinical evidence or suspicion of meningitis or encephalitis. If the opening pressure is elevated, only as much CSF as is needed for culture should be obtained. Broad-spectrum antibiotics to cover meningitis should be administered before the start of the procedure. In patients with an acute fulminant presentation, rapid onset of septic shock, and severely impaired mental status, this procedure is used to rule out bacterial meningitis.


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