Lumbar puncture characteristics of traumatic LP versus subarachnoid hemorrhage

Differences between Traumatic LPs and SAH. How Traumatic lumbar punctures Impact Healthcare Decisions.How to Differentiate Traumatic Lumbar Punctures from Aneurysmal Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

The diagnosis of subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) often requires lumbar puncture, however, in an estimated 10% to 30% of procedures that are traumatic, iatrogenic bleeding can complicate diagnosis. To identify cerebrospinal fluid characteristics that might differentiate between SAH and traumatic lumbar puncture, researchers conducted a planned substudy of a prospective multicenter study. They enrolled 1739 alert (Glasgow Coma Scale score, 15) patients older than 15 years with acute nontraumatic headache who underwent lumbar puncture to rule out SAH. Presence of aneurysmal SAH was determined by computed tomography (CT), CT angiography, or follow-up by phone at 1 and 6 months for patients who did not undergo CT angiography.

Lumbar puncture results were abnormal in 641 patients (37%). Of these, 15 (2%) had an aneurysmal SAH. Cerebrospinal fluid findings that distinguished between traumatic and true-positive lumbar puncture were a red blood cell (RBC) count greater than 2000 × 106/L and presence of xanthochromia. If neither of the criteria was present, 100% of aneurysmal SAHs were excluded.


  1. Perry JJ et al. Differentiation between traumatic tap and aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage: Prospective cohort study. BMJ 2015 Feb 18350:h568


Read all articles in Hematology, Lumbar Puncture, medical procedures, Traumatology
Tags: HPC updates, lumbar puncture, subarachnoid hemorrhage, traumatic lumbar puncture

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