Cerebrospinal Fluid Cytology

  • B. Jameson


Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) cytology should be a multidisciplinary exercise which involves the microbiologist, the haematologist and the histopathologist. Even if infiltration by malignant cells is the clinical diagnosis, infection must always be considered, particularly in patients with lymphoreticular malignancies. Consequently the best use can be made of a specimen of CSF if the whole sample is delivered to the microbiology laboratory, rather than being divided up by the clinician and sent, in what might not be appropriate aliquots, to several laboratories. There the specimen is first cultured on media suitable for growth of both bacteria and fungi, after which the cells are counted and cytological preparations made. The supernatant fluid is available for biochemical investigation and any remaining fluid can be retained for whatever further tests may be indicated. The advantage is that the specimen is handled aseptically throughout the entire procedure and the remainder is still sterile if the initial examination suggests that further studies such as serology or virological culture are needed.


Bacterial Meningitis Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia Cryptococcal Meningitis Cytosine Arabinoside Viral Encephalitis 
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Further reading

  1. Spriggs, A. I. and Boddington, M. M. (1968). The Cytology of Effusions and Cerebrospinal Fluid, Heinemann Medical, London.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© B. Jameson 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Jameson

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