Cytopathology of the Cerebrospinal Fluid

  • Robert M. Herndon
  • Roger Brumback


Study of cellular changes in the cerebrospinal fluid began even before the clinical introduction of lumbar puncture [57]. Such study received a considerable boost from the work of Widal and coworkers at the turn of the century [63, 64]. However, aside from simple differential cell counts, it did not become a common procedure until modern cytology developed following introduction of the Papanicolaou stain in 1942 [45]. Even today, many of the cytologic evaluations of cerebrospinal fluid use only simple preparative techniques and light microscopy. Although a considerable amount of information can be derived from such modern approaches as immunocytochemistry, cell sorting, and lymphocyte typing, these methods are sufficiently time-consuming and specialized to limit their usefulness, and they have not yet become routine clinical procedures. However, in various disease states there is an enormous amount of diagnostically important material in the cerebrospinal fluid that would be identifiable with appropriate techniques. Some of this material, such as collagen fibers and myelin fragments, can be identified by electron microscopy and might be identifiable with simpler and more specific techniques if its presence was suspected. For this reason, we present electron microscopic results where available in the hope that future investigators may develop more refined diagnostic techniques for these components.


Multiple Sclerosis Cerebrospinal Fluid Herpes Simplex Encephalitis Congenital Rubella Syndrome Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis 
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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert M. Herndon
  • Roger Brumback

There are no affiliations available

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