spinal tap

Pronunciation: (SPY-nul ...)

A procedure in which a thin needle called a spinal needle is put into the lower part of the spinal column to collect cerebrospinal fluid or to give drugs. Also called lumbar puncture.

Source: NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms

Caption: Lumbar puncture. A patient lies in a curled position on a table. After a small area on the lower back is numbed, a spinal needle (a long, thin needle) is inserted into the lower part of the spinal column to remove cerebrospinal fluid (CSF, shown in blue). The fluid may be sent to a laboratory for testing.

Date last modified: 2008-06-15