Posted 3/16/2007 6:42 PM (GMT -6)
You are a doll for being so responsive to me.. Thank you.. From what I hear about a spinal tap, I would be scared to death to get one from the side effects that people experience. I hope it doesn't come to that..
Many of us have had spinal taps *without any negative side effects*. It is an invasive procedure -- the doctor is extracting spinal fluid from your spinal column. Sometimes -- not always -- in fact, not MOST of the time -- some people experience a really bad headache after the tap is done. The procedure to fix that is to return to the doctor, have him draw blood from your arm (like any other ordinary blood draw), and inject it into your spinal column, near the spot where the tap was done. Almost instantly the headache is gone.
But again...MANY of us have had the spinal tap (or lumbar puncture...same test, different name) without ANY complications. Usually the doctor will tell you to drink plenty of fluids before the test is done, and usually caffienated fluids (coffee, Coke, etc.). And then once the test is over, to lie FLAT for several hours, to give your body fluids time to readjust to the absence of the fluids drawn for the test. Usually then you go about your business, with many only a slight backache the next day.
The test is really valuable, especially if all the other tests come back "negative", or "inconclusive", and you're still dealing with symptoms. While the test in itself cannot diagnose MS, it CAN sometimes point to it, or to other things that might be going on in your central nervous system, like a bacterial infection (like Lyme) or chronic infection, or other disease mechanisms.
If I were grappling with unexplained symptoms, and other tests have come back without any answers provided, and the doctor ordered a spinal tap -- I'd do it. I've had 3 done over the years (for different reasons; the first to diagnose MS, as MRI's were not available then), and have never suffered any side effects except a back ache the next day. After the first one, in fact, I got up off the table, got dressed, and went back to work...didn't know I wasn't supposed to...and had no ill effects at all.
By "invasive procedure" I mean a procedure that takes something from your body -- fluids, blood, etc. The other tests are "external" -- you might have electrodes attached to your body, or endure being slid into the MRI tube - -but you leave the office with all the "stuff" inside that was there when you came in. Doctors don't like to do invasive procedures unless there is no other way to try to figure out what is ailing a patient. If all the other tests come back negative, or inconclusive, indeed a spinal tap might provide answers, or at least a direction, that the other tests didn't offer.
...I am not a doctor, nor health professional, and don't pretend to be one, here.....