Medical Imaging

Nuclear Medicine > Exams & Procedures > CSF Flow Scan (Cisternogram)

This test will assess normal and abnormal pathways of cerebral spinal fluid drainage (the fluid found in the spinal cord and around your brain).

The test involves the injection of a radioactive tracer into the cerebral spinal fluid. The injection is given as a lumbar puncture (insertion of the needle into the lower back) by a highly trained doctor under X-ray guidance. You will be kept on a stretcher for at least four hours following the injection. This helps to eliminate the possibility of developing a headache from the injection. Pictures will be taken to follow the natural flow of the tracer in the cerebral spinal fluid.


  • None required.
  • The procedure takes about six hours plus a delayed picture the next morning. It is recommended that you bring a lunch.
  • Bring a list of all medications and supplements you take including vitamins, herbal remedies, and holistic medications.
  • Do not bring children or pregnant women with you to the department. We do not want to expose them to unnecessary radiation.
  • Any of these procedures is subject to change according to the nuclear medicine physician. The duration of the tests is a rough estimate. Please be aware that the time may be lengthened if a scan has to be repeated, if emergency cases are brought to the department or due to unforeseen circumstances.

About the Procedure

Day one - six hours with breaks in between.
Day two - 30 minutes.

  • You will check in with the nuclear medicine department.
  • You will check in with the X-ray department.
  • You will be taken to change into a hospital gown in the X-ray department.
  • An X-ray technologist will explain the lumbar puncture procedure to you.
  • A doctor will prepare the injection site, give anesthetic to that site, and make the injection of the tracer under X-ray guidance.
  • After the lumbar puncture you will be brought to nuclear medicine on a stretcher.
  • Pictures of your back and head will be taken two and five hours after the injection.
  • You will return to nuclear medicine the next morning for 24-hour-delayed pictures.

Risks and Warnings


Possible Adverse Effects

You may get a headache from the lumbar puncture injection. The chance of getting a headache is minimized by lying down for the duration of the test.