Can A Lumbar Puncture Cause Paralysis

Question

Asked by A concerned daughter

Can A Lumbar Puncture Cause Paralysis

My mother was admitted to the hopsital 10 days ago & disagnossed w/viral meningitis. An MRI & lumbar puncture was done to confirm. A day after this procedure, she couldn't move from the waist down. A second MRI indicated she had a syrinx (fluid in the spinal cord) which was probably causing the paralysis. I've read that syrinx can sometimes be a cause of meningitis, but it usualy wouldn't cause paralysis so quickly. I'm concerned that the paralysis could be from the LB. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Thank you,

A concerned daughter

Answer

I'm not an expert but lumbar punctures are very common procedures and risk of paralysis is extremely low. The puncture does not actually contact the spinal cord but the fluid sacs below the spinal cord. I don't have the expertise to know if a puncture could contribute to increased fluid but the procedure, of course, is designed to remove not add fluid. The physician should be able to clearly see the spinal cord and avoid it. Make sure that you get clear on this, however. Could the needle have contacted the spinal cord - allowing fluid to enter? This would appear to be very rare. You'll need advice from specialists to answer that questions.