Davis's Lab & Diagnostic Tests

Cerebrospinal Fluid Analysis

Cerebrospinal Fluid Analysis is a topic covered in the Davis's Lab & Diagnostic Tests.

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CSF analysis (lumbar puncture, spinal tap).

Common Use:
To assist in the differential diagnosis of infection or hemorrhage of the brain. Also used in the evaluation of other conditions with significant neuromuscular effects, such as multiple sclerosis.

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) collected in three or four separate plastic conical tubes. Tube 1 is used for chemistry and serology testing, tube 2 is used for microbiology, tube 3 is used for cell count, and tube 4 is used for miscellaneous testing.

Normal Findings:
(Method: Macroscopic evaluation of appearance; spectrophotometry for glucose, lactic acid, and protein; immunoassay for myelin basic protein; nephelometry for immunoglobulin G [IgG]; electrophoresis for oligoclonal banding; Gram stain, India ink preparation, and culture or PCR for microbiology; microscopic examination of fluid for cell count; flocculation for Venereal Disease Research Laboratory [VDRL])

Lumbar PunctureConventional UnitsSI Units
Color and appearanceCrystal clear
(Conventional Units × 10)
 0–1 moLess than 150 mg/dLLess than 1,500 mg/L
 1–6 mo30–100 mg/dL300–1,000 mg/L
 7 mo–adult15–45 mg/dL150–450 mg/L
 Older adult15–60 mg/dL150–600 mg/L
(Conventional Units × 0.0555)
 Infant or child60–80 mg/dL3.3–4.4 mmol/L
 Adult/older adult40–70 mg/dL2.2–3.9 mmol/L
(Conventional Units × 0.111)
Lactic acid
 Neonate10–60 mg/dL1.1–6.7 mmol/L
 3–10 d10–40 mg/dL1.1–4.4 mmol/L
 AdultLess than 25.2 mg/dLLess than 2.8 mmol/L
(Conventional Units × 1)
Myelin basic protein
Less than 4 ng/mLLess than 4 mcg/L
Oligoclonal bandsAbsent
(Conventional Units × 10)
IgGLess than 3.4 mg/dLLess than 34 mg/L
Gram stainNegative
India inkNegative
CultureNo growth
RBC count00
(Conventional Units × 1)
WBC count
Neonate–1 mo0–30 /microL0–30 × 106/L
 1 mo–1 yr0–10 /microL0–10 × 106/L
 1–5 yr0–8 /microL0–8 × 106/L
 5 yr–adult0–5 /microL0–5 × 106/L
CytologyNo abnormal cells seen
CSF glucose should be 60%–70% of plasma glucose level.RBC = red blood cell; VDRL = Venereal Disease Research Laboratory; WBC = white blood cell.Color should be assessed after sample is centrifuged.
WBC DifferentialAdultChildren

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