Do you need lumbar puncture to get diagnosis?


I wonder if anyone can possibly share any knowledge / experiences on the tests for ms - My main question is can an mri give enough to diagnose or is a lumbar puncture always done after mri?

I have had mri and am awaiting results and the thought of possibly needing lp scares me a bit!!

Any help is greatly appreciated


My diagnosis was based on a MRI and a LP. So I think the LP was more of a confirmation for MS. Just to put your mind at ease the LP didn’t hurt at all. Very straight forward really. Good luck.

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Sometimes people are diagnosed without an LP. But, I should think the majority do have one.

The point is that 95% of people with MS have what’s called ‘oligoclonal bands’ in their cerebrospinal fluid. So it helps a neurologist make a diagnosis.

An LP doesn’t usually hurt. They numb the area where the needle goes in. I remember it feeling very strange and kind of upsetting for some bizarre reason.

The general advice if you do have to have one is to drink lots of full strength Coke (bendy straw helps), because the sugar and the caffeine help, and to lay down afterwards for at least a couple of hours. These are to avoid a killer headache. not that I did either as I hadn’t been given any advice and didn’t get any side effects like a headache.

Another test that’s quite often used for MS diagnosis is Visual Evoked Potentials, where they map what is going on in your brain whilst you’re watching some weird images on a screen. That is non invasive so involves no pain or side effects.



i was diagnosed without a lp-its just one piece in the puzzle.

guess it depends on your neuro!


I was diagnosed without a lumbar puncture and my private neurologist believes that it won’t tell me anything that I don’t already know, however my NHS neurologist has referred me for a lumbar puncture. Differing views I guess. X

I had a LP as part of my Dignoses, it caused me no issues. From reading lots over the last few months it seems 50/50 on whether it is done as part of Dignoses.

Same here.


Thank you all so much for taking the time to reply - your responses have helped reassure me that if I need to get one, it will be ok!

I will also make sure I have plenty coke and bendy straws if I do need one - thanks for that advice Sue.