Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Post-LP Headache

Hey guys! 

Here's all you need to you know about that nasty headache some patients get, after a lumbar puncture (LP).

How common?
Up to one-thirds of all cases.

What are the risk factors?
None. Despite years of anecdotal advice to the contrary, none of the following has ever been scientifically shown to be a risk factor: position during or after the procedure; hydration status before, during or after; amount of CSF removed; immediate activity or rest post-LP.

When does it happen?
Within 24 hours of LP.

How does it present?
Let's SOCRATES the pain here.

Site: Frontal > Occipital
Onset: Acute
Character: Dull aching
Radiation: None
Association: Mild neck stiffness, nausea
Time Course: Lasts for 2 days to 2 weeks
Exacerbating factor: Sitting upright or standing, and so the relieving factor is lying down
Severity: Varies 

What is the pathology?
Thought to be continued leakage of CSF from the puncture site and intracranial hypotension. Other neuro-vascular mechanisms may be involved.

How do I prevent it?
Using the smallest practical needle and keeping the bevel facing up. Before withdrawing the needle, reinserting the stilette.

How do I treat it?
It's self limiting. Can use analgesia, as per WHO Pain Ladder. In extreme cases, can also involve an anaesthetist for an epidural 'blood patch'.

Know something you'd like to add? Let me know.

Thank you for reading. Have a nice rest of the day, you.

- Ashish Singh

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