Spinal tap and what it tells us?

kecarman Member Posts: 2
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
I have gotten confused about the purpose of my spinal tap on Wed. Can anyone out there explain it to me? I have looked online, but can't verify what I thought I understood.

Story: I have been having numbness in both my feet and calves. Saw doctors and an MRI showed a bulging disk. So I am going through PT for the disk with the goal to eliminate the foot numbness.

Oncologist and Neurologist called me a month later and scheduled a spinal tap to make sure I didn't have a reoccurance. I thought they were looking for a tumor on the spinal cord (which would explain the foot numbness). But they said they are looking for antibodies in the fluid which would tell them that there is a tumor somewhere in the body, but not where.
My confusion is the following: How would the presence of the antibodies relate to the foot numbness? They say the bulging disk would only account for the numbness on the right side, not both feet/legs equally.

Can someone explain to me how this works?

Thanks, Karen
New to this board, completed treatment in Jan. 2003


  • DeeNY711
    DeeNY711 Member Posts: 476 Member
    Your comprehension of what you were told is flawless. Don't try to figure out the part that is confusing you. Call the oncologist or neurologist and ask them to explain that part to you. One of the side effects of taxotere is peripheral neuropathy, so if you have had chemotherapy, it could be related to chemotherapy. Hugs, Denise
  • hummingbyrd
    hummingbyrd Member Posts: 950 Member
    My understanding is the spinal fluid circulates through spine and brain. A spinal tap can show if there is excess pressure on the brain, such as a space occupying lesion. Can also tell if you have an infection, such as spinal meningites. Most everything in the spinal fluid is confined to just that, spine and brain, as very little crosses what is called the 'blood brain barrier'.
    To me that means if they were looking for tumor antibodies in the spinal fluid they were checking to see if you had a tumor in the spine. Now why they did a tap and not an MRI of spine I don't know, unless they were checking pressure, thinking if spinal fluid pressure so high it would compress nerves and cause numbness to both legs. My guess is with Dee, could be medication causing numbness. I took Faslodex injections and it caused numbness in all extremities. Best advice is jot down questions and take list with you then ask MD. Hope this helps.
    Welcome aboard!
    You are a SURVIVOR!
    God bless and take care. hummingbyrd