Wednesday, July 19, 2006

This is a Spinal Tap

Meningitis patients beware. I am no longer afraid of lumbar punctures, as I performed my first one today.

(Actually I am still afraid of getting one, but at least now I know they don't necessarily have to be painful.)

We had to get an lumbar puncture from a paralyzed patient of ours today in order to help diagnose whatever bizarre illness she contracted that made her become, in a matter of days, "locked-in" -- meaning that she is nearly completely paralyzed, except for her eyes, which she can move up and down. Since I had seen one performed on her earlier in the week, and abiding by the "see one, do one, teach one" principle, my resident let me perform it.

It's amazing how far into the back the needle can be pushed. I plunged in that long needle, expecting it to hit subarachnoid space or bone at any minute, but it kept going. After about 3 inches, I finally felt it pierce through something (I assume dura) and then CSF started dripping out!

A successful LP on my first try ... talk about beginner's luck.

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