How Long Do I Lay Flat After Lumbar Puncture (And Why)?

Exact Answer: For up to 48 hours after the procedure if possible 

Lumbar puncture, otherwise called “spinal tap” is a procedure that collects cerebrospinal fluid by inserting a needle for diagnostic testing. This procedure is done to diagnose complications in the central nervous system, such as the brain and spine. Cerebrospinal fluid, otherwise called CBF acts as a cushion to protect the brain and spinal cord from injury. If you are someone that bleeds easily or if you have an infection in the area that is meant for surgery, the lumbar puncture will not be performed. There are certain precautions to be taken before and after the surgery, one of which is to lay flat after the surgery. The reasons for which will be discussed in this article.  

How Long Do I Lay Flat After Lumbar Puncture? 

You are supposed to take a rest for 30 minutes after the surgery in the same position. The rest is essential for your healing process. Even after a period of 30 minutes, you do not have the liberty to get up from the bed until your doctor allows you to. After you reach home, you will be asked to lie down in a flat position at least for two days because heavy movements or just any movement, in general, can increase your headache.  

How Long After Surgery do you Lay Flat? How much it reduces your Headache? 
3 to 4 hours after surgery  Reduces up to 0.5% to 36% headache 
2 days after surgery  Up to 90% of the headache 

Just like there are precautions that you should take care of after the surgery, there are some you to take before. You should not eat or drink anything 3 hours before the surgery. If you are someone that has diabetes or any other major health complications, it is your duty to keep your doctor well informed about it. You will be asked to drink caffeine such as coffee and tea once every four hours as it is seen as a cure to the surgery. The more you lay flat, the better will be your healing process.  

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Why Should I Lay Flat for So Long After Lumbar Puncture? 

One of the major reasons, doctors suggest you lay flat after the surgery is that, it helps in preventing headaches. Headaches are one of the most common after-effects of lumbar puncture. Around 25% of the patients get a headache after the surgery. This is caused due to the leakage in the tissues nearby. The only risks after a lumbar puncture surgery are the headaches that come with it. Otherwise, the surgery is said to be completely safe and harmless. 

After surgery, there is a leakage of the cerebrospinal liquid which is resulted from the delayed closure which leads to a decrease in the pressure of the cerebrospinal liquid. Sleeping in a prone position helps to prevent leakage and fastens the process of healing.  

Asking you to lay flat is one of the common advice given by doctors. Other advices include asking you to increase the number of liquids you intake. Drinking more liquids reduces the chances of you getting a severe headache. Liquids are seen as a replacement to the cerebrospinal liquid that is usually taken out during the surgery. If there is a reduction in this fluid, there is an increased chance of getting a headache. Liquids such as water balance out the reduction of CBF.  

After your surgery, you will be instructed to limit your activities for a period of 24 hours. If your headache still remains after that time or if you feel uncomfortable if you sleep in other positions, you are asked to reach out to your healthcare supporter.  

Conclusion 

Since a lumbar puncture involves your spinal cord, you should take more care than what you do normally. Make sure you do not do any vigorous exercises after the surgery. You should take a rest for a good enough time to make sure you heal properly. If you are someone that takes alcohol on a regular basis talk to your doctor about the restrictions. You should also keep a check on the other foods that you consume. If you follow the instructions given by your doctor precisely, a lumbar puncture will not be something that you need to worry about.  

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References

  1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00415-012-6413-x
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4113153/
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