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Central Nervous System Bleeding After a Lumbar Puncture: Still an Ongoing Complication

Christer Sawaya, Raja Sawaya

(University of Nicosia Medical School, Nicosia, Cyprus)

Am J Case Rep 2018; 19:1103-1107

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.910912


BACKGROUND: A lumbar puncture is a procedure performed to uncover the state of the central nervous system by analysis of the cerebrospinal fluid. It is done also to infuse medications in the subdural space. A lumbar puncture should not cause central nervous system bleeding, but this complication is still occurring in certain cases.
CASE REPORT: We present 2 cases where a lumbar puncture was performed in the emergency department. The first patient had severe inflammatory lower back pain and received epidural steroids through a lumbar puncture and the second case presented with the clinical picture of meningitis and a lumbar puncture was performed for diagnostic purposes. In both cases, major complications arose secondary to bleeding in the cerebrospinal fluid. The first case developed a bleeding tendency because the patient had acute renal failure and was on low molecular weight heparin. The second case had low platelet count because of myelodysplasia. Both cases bled into the subarachnoid space and subdural space resulting in compression of the cauda equine and paralysis. The bleeding eventually flowed into the posterior fossa resulting in vasospasm of the posterior circulation and infarction of the posterior cerebral arteries.
CONCLUSIONS: We concluded that both patients sustained complications from the lumbar puncture because of a bleeding tendency secondary to systemic illnesses and multiple drugs and their side effects. We recommend that patients’ medical condition be well evaluated, and proper blood studies be performed prior to lumbar punctures to avoid major morbidities.

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