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Blood. 2000 Nov 15;96(10):3381-4.

Traumatic lumbar puncture at diagnosis adversely affects outcome in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

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Departments of Hematology-Oncology, Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Pathology, St Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN, USA.


The effect of traumatic lumbar puncture at the time of initial diagnostic workup on treatment outcome in children with newly diagnosed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) was investigated. The findings of the first 2 lumbar punctures performed on 546 patients with newly diagnosed ALL treated on 2 consecutive front-line studies (1984-1991) at St Jude Children's Research Hospital were retrospectively reviewed. Lumbar punctures were performed at the time of diagnosis and again for the instillation of first intrathecal chemotherapy. The event-free survival (EFS) experience for patients with 1 cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) sample contaminated with blast cells was worse than that for patients with no contaminated CSF samples (P =.026); that of patients with 2 consecutive contaminated CSF samples was particularly poor (5-year EFS = 46 +/- 9%). In a Cox multiple regression analysis, the strongest prognostic indicator was 2 consecutive contaminated CSF samples, with a hazard ratio of 2.39 (95% confidence interval, 1. 36-4.20). These data indicate that contamination of CSF with circulating leukemic blast cells during diagnostic lumbar puncture can adversely affect the treatment outcome of children with ALL and is an indication to intensify intrathecal therapy.

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