Dear Ask The Doctor: My mom went to the hospital with chronic, painful headaches that she said felt like a burst, then fingers wrapping around her head. They gave her a spinal tap and found blood. They are trying to find where she was bleeding from. What is blood in a spinal tap indictive of and what should be done next.
Dear Patient: Blood in the spinal tap may be result of a traumatic lumbar puncture or may be due to CNS bleeding such as subarachnoid hemorrhage, cerebral hemorrhage, rupture of an aneurysm or a bleeding from the spinal cord. Treatment and recovery depends on the location, cause, and amount of the hemorrhage as well as, on how early the treatment is received. Surgery may be done to repair or remove structures causing the bleed as in case of aneurysm. If the hematoma is large enough to cause pressure on the other parts of the brain, it may become necessary to surgically drain this hematoma rather than watchful waiting as is usually done in case of small hematomas. Medications used include steroids or diuretics to reduce the swelling or intracranial pressure, painkillers, anti convulsants etc.