How is the patient positioned during a lumbar puncture (LP)?

Updated: Aug 02, 2018
  • Author: Gil Z Shlamovitz, MD, FACEP; Chief Editor: Helmi L Lutsep, MD  more...
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The patient is placed in the lateral recumbent position (see the image below) with the hips, knees, and chin flexed toward the chest so as to open the interlaminar spaces. A pillow may be used to support the head. In a single-center prospective study, performance of lumbar puncture in the extended rather than the flexed lateral recumbent position yielded a statistically significant decrease in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) opening pressure, but the difference (mean, 0.6 ± 2.2 cm water) was small and of doubtful clinical significance.

Lumbar puncture lateral recumbent position. Image Lumbar puncture lateral recumbent position. Image courtesy of Gil Z Shlamovitz, MD.

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