Documentation of cerebrospinal fluid opening pressure and other important aspects of lumbar puncture in acute headache

R Hewett, C Counsell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Measuring cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) opening pressure by lumbar puncture (LP) is an essential tool in the investigation of patients with acute headache.

Aim: To assess documentation of opening CSF pressure in those with acute headache undergoing LP. General documentation of the procedure and CSF investigations was also assessed.

Methods: Retrospective review of medical records of patients admitted to a teaching hospital Acute Medical Admissions Unit over a three-month period with a presenting complaint of headache.

Results: A total of 106 patients presented with headache of whom 48 patients had at least one LP attempted. Only 41 patients (85%, 95% CI 72–94) had their LP documented. Of 47 patients that had a successful LP, 22 (47%) had a recorded opening pressure. Eighteen (32%) of all patients had their position recorded, with seven (15%) patients having had position and opening pressure documented. Twenty patients (43%) had the appropriate results documented. Twelve patients (31%) had paired serum glucose measured.

Conclusions: Documentation of a LP for headache in the acute setting was generally poor. CSF opening pressure measurement was frequently omitted and no appropriate action taken if high. Paired serum glucose was rarely measured. Acute physicians may benefit from a proposed protocol and documentation sticker.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)930-935
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Clinical Practice
Issue number7
Early online date17 May 2010
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


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