Lumbar Puncture

Earlier this week I went for a lumbar puncture. The procedure was undertaken by a specialist nurse and that reassured me as I guessed she would be very experienced. It was an absolute nightmare, far worse than anything I'd expected and I'd like to know if my experience is common.

She refused to allow my husband into the room, even though I told her I was nervous and would have been reassured by his presence. He is a GP so used to things medical.

She repeatedly hit a bone in my back and needed NINE attempts to get to the spinal fluid. I have a huge purple / black bruise around the area where she was inserting the needle and my back is stiff and sore. I've had an awful headache ever since and feel rotten.

I am just so angry with myself. I would never have allowed anyone to attempt to take blood from one of my children so many times without success. Whenever blood was needed from them I 'allowed' three attempts before asking for someone more experienced. I don't even allow my vet more than three attempts on my dog!!! Yet I felt so vulnerable I put up with this woman's treatment without a word of complaint.

She said she needed a blood sample to go with the  CSF and her efforts with this were equally botched. She used a butterfly needle in the back of my hand but didn't keep hold of it so it swung, breaking the vein and causing a huge lump of blood to form under my skin. This has now dispersed but the bruise covers most of my hand. She eventually got some blood from the other arm, saying that it was 'my' fault as I must have low blood pressure. I hope she was simply having a very bad day and that other patients don't have to tolerate her lack of skills.


Hi, Friday,


The actual procedure should not be painful; in fact the only thing you feel is a scratch when the anaesthetic goes in but 9 attempts bloody hell.  The actual removal of fluid is just a feeling of pressure if done properly.  I must stress if done properly; do not let anyone practice on you insist on someone who is experienced.


It’s after you MAY get something called ‘the headache from hell.’  To cut down the chances of getting this you should lay flat for at least 3 hours do not even get up to go to the loo; use a pan.  Drink at least 2 litres of classic Coke, not diet; it’s the caffeine that aids replenishment of your CNS fluid.  Being your drinking a lot take one of those bendy straws otherwise the bed will get more Coke than you.  If you want a change of drink very strong coffee.


These things will drastically reduce your chances of getting a headache that could last about 8 days.  If you have a couple of days off work and rest if you do not get the headache, if you do 10 days off work.


If the headache last more than 10 days you could need a blood patch; especially if there’s a wet patch on the bed in the area of the spine after a nights sleep.  See GP;  this is rare.   Your husband probable knows all this.


I would report her; contact


Good luck.



Hi Friday

Sorry to hear about your problems and to answer your question it should not have been that bad mine was relativley painless and as ggod said the most painful thing was the injection to put th antisetic in.

I am surprised that yours was done by a nurse as mine was done by a doctor who was vetry nice and reasuring showing me the needel she was going to use ad how muchfluid she needed.

She even showed me the fluid she had extracted.

She told me that a nurse couldn't do that procedure and it ha to be a doctor so I think something masy have been done wrong in your case.

The doctor allowed my aunt to be in the room with me for support and she sat right across from me during the procedure and then stayed with me for the hour after until I felt better.

The doctor also told me I was a very 'paitent' paitent lol

Again sorry to hear of the trouble you went through it should not have been that bad.

My experience was not like this at all!

My husband held my hand throughout as i was so nervous.

A doctor did the lumber puncture.  He explained everything really well. A nurse assisted him,

I felt a scratch and nothing more.

I had to luy flat for ages and drank loads of water.

I went home after a few hours and felt fine.  I never got the headache at all.  No bruising - no marks.


Hi Friday! sounds like a nightmare with your lumber puncture? Perhaps it was the same nurse who did mine? Well i think it was mid September last year when i was called in for mine. So introducing Annie the amateur and the Chuckle brothers :) My neurologist said he would arrange this for me and as usual he didn't although he did arrange my (EVP)and(ERG) tests for me or in English an eye test :), only after my constant complaining to my GP got me my appointment at the local hospital for the lumber puncture... what is the national health service coming to these days? Anyways i walked into the ward and sat on my bed, this was in a small general ward with about 10 other people.

So in walks three people and made straight for me, the one guy introduced himself then told me to assume the fetal position and stay as still as possible, the anesthetic injection came next which seamed to go ok. The worrying bit for me was as i lay there they started talking about how to perform a lumber puncture!!!???
The long needle came next, i think this took two or three attempts to insert but they were having discussions amongst themselves again, then all of a sudden one of my legs shot out and kicked the side of the bed, you know them beds with adjustable sides to stop people falling out. As the long needle was inserted it felt really weird... almost like my whole body was moving or being pushed in some way. I know by their comments after that they were having problems extracting the fluid but eventually they got the sample they needed. Now i was told by the original nurse who gave me my bed number and id bracelet that i should lay flat for three hours after the LP to help prevent the notorious headache. Then one of the chuckle brothers attempted to get a blood sample from me - five attempts later i got up out of bed and told him it was obvious to me that you've never taken a blood sample before! now if you need a sample to follow the LP get someone else to take the sample! After some other guy appeared and took the blood sample i got up from my bed and decided to go home before someone else wanted to practice on me :)
Later on in the evening when the anesthetic wore off my back started to hurt and thank god no notoriously painful headache :) or the headache from hell as its often called. Never again nervous

I had a LP done at Addenbrooke's a week or so ago. I found it to be very quick, painless and efficient. I had no bruising or pain at the LP site and no bruising after my bloods were taken as I was lying down after the LP. It only took a few minutes and I was away after half an hour. No problems.

I would take ten LP's over 1 MRI any day.

No wonder she didn't want your hubby in there!!! She knew she couldn't do it!!

She shouldn't be allowed to carry out a procedure she isn't familiar with without the utmost supervision. You need to report her I think so she is stopped from doing this to anyone else.


Good point debc she should be reported, there are lots of lawyers now who deal with cases like this liked failed or bad hospital practice sio you hould try and look into somthing like that and like debc said to stop it from happening to others, good luck.

Sounds grim Friday and Mike!

@ midnightmoon - isn't it funny how we all have such different reactions to different things? I nearly fell asleep in my MRI (closed) the other week. Was in there nearly 2 hours. They were amazed at how relaxed I was. Amitryptiline and Citalopram may have helped. Or maybe it's because about 12 years ago I was diagnosed with prolactinoma on my pituatary gland and had to have an mri of my head every month for a year, then every six months for the next few years. Shame they weren't looking at my brain then. Nobody giving me any sort of head / brain mri now when I want one due to MS possibilities. Just neck and spine. Go figure! However, the thought of a Lumbar Puncture freaks me right out, despite having an OK experience with an epidural for high blood pressure/ pre-eclampsia when I had my daughter. Ooh, LP...I've got totally irrational colly wobbles! Think you are so brave!




Sorry to hear this was so awful, I had a lumber after my eye stopped moving in hospital and it was only the anaesthic that I felt it was quick and painless. I did have a awful headache at the time so my pressure was high so drained more fluid. They made me lay flat for an hour after which with a few paracetamol helped me. I also found an MRI a more stressful then this procedure. Still awaiting muy results.

Hope all Your feeling a little better now k x x

Hi Friday,

I agree with the others who say that she should be reported.  It's not just what you went through, it's the thought that a so-called specialist, she could treat other people the same way - and that really frightens me.  Whoever set you up with her should be told straight away.



Wow, I think you are brave! 2 hours in an MRI? Oh geez, I would have probably died in that time! lol, or punched my way out of it. How do these people on ‘I’m a Celeb’ do those forfeits like actually being buried alive with rats in with them. Arrgggh!!! Good job I’m not a celeb on the programme or we would all starve as I would neve win that sort of forfeit. I’ll take physical pain any day over mental torture.

I think it was one of the worst experiences of my life, no exaggeration. I never want another one.

I really would love to be one of those who can fall assleep in an MRI. It would make things so much easier.

Thanks for the replies and the comments on different experiences. I guess it all depends on who we are lucky, or unlucky, enough to have to do the procedure. I am considering reporting her as I wouldn't like anyone else to go through that experience and I'm sure it wasn't necessary.

I had a headache for a couple of days but thankfully that has eased now. My back is still stiff but a session with my physio has helped. I suspect that one of the reasons the nurse found things so difficult is that I had a 'burst' fracture of my spine a couple of years ago. It has healed reasonably well but the ligaments are probably a bit tougher than average. They were all well aware of this issue so I would have hoped they had taken that into consideration when they decided who should do the lp.

I've been lucky in the past and this has been my first real illness. It has affected my walking ability and balance and has been going on since January. I'm beginning to lose faith in the NHS and wish I had private health insurance!!