Lumbar Puncture in Premature Babies

Lumbar Puncture in Premature Babies – Definition, Benefits and Complications


A lumbar puncture is also commonly known as spinal tap or simply ‘LP.’  It is a procedure wherein doctors collect fluid from the spine by inserting a needle between the bones in the back and into the spinal column.  When a small amount of fluid has been extracted, the needle is then withdrawn.


Lumbar Puncture in Premature Babies
Lumbar Puncture in Premature Babies


Most lumbar puncture procedures are done to babies diagnosed with meningitis.  Meningitis is a serious (and often fatal) infection that can be tested only through lumbar puncture.


The procedure also used in premature babies with severe IVH to prevent hydrocephalus.  Physicians may use LP to get rid of the excess blood and spinal fluid to prevent or delay the need.


Benefits and Complications of LP

Imagine a needle puncturing the skin of your new born babe, being inserted deeper until it reaches the space between the bones of his or her spine?  Would it be an easy choice for you as a parent?   However, it may be comforting for you to know that doctors can weigh the risks and benefits of the procedure.  But as it is, there are benefits from this procedure and these include the following:


  • LP can diagnose serious or fatal diseases that may endanger the life of your baby.
  • Remember that meningitis can only be detected through LP.
  • The outcome of LP can be used in providing the best solution or treatment for your baby.



Lumber puncture is generally considered safe by the medical personnel but there are potential risks, too.

  • LP may be uncomfortable for your baby but it is not painful.
  • Infection is included in the list of risks for any invasive procedure as well as headache and bleeding can occur.
  • Premature babies may experience lower heart rate and oxygen saturation during the LP procedure.