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J Neurosurg. 1986 Feb;64(2):253-6.

Neurological deterioration after lumbar puncture below complete spinal subarachnoid block.


The risk of neurological deterioration after removal of cerebrospinal fluid below the level of a complete spinal subarachnoid block is generally accepted. The actual incidence of deterioration after lumbar puncture in the presence of a complete block remains unknown. The present retrospective case analysis includes a review of 100 patients found to have complete block on myelography: 50 cases with a lumbar puncture and 50 cases with a C1-2 puncture. Each group consisted of a similar age range, neurological status prior to myelography, level of block, and nature of disease. Seven patients (14%) had significant neurological deterioration after lumbar puncture, while no deterioration was seen after a C1-2 puncture. A summary of those cases in which deterioration followed lumbar puncture is presented and the possible pathophysiology is discussed. From this analysis, the estimated risk of downward spinal coning after lumbar puncture below a complete spinal subarachnoid block caused by a mass lesion is at least 14%.

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