CSF cell count


What is a CSF Cell Count?

A CSF cell count is a diagnostic test that looks at the levels of white blood cells in the cerebrospinal fluid or CSF for short. It indicates the presence of an infection or inflammation of the central nervous system. The cerebrospinal fluid is the liquid that bathes the brain and spinal cord.

Preparing for CSF Cell Count

Generally no special preparation is required for a CSF cell count, however; some laboratories might require fasting for a few hours before the test. It is important to inform the healthcare provider if the patient is suffering from any underlying condition such as infections, bleeding tendency, kidney or liver disorders, or any allergies.

Procedure for CSF Cell Count

The procedure for CSF cell count is usually performed in a laboratory. It involves the following steps:

  • The patient is asked to change into a gown.
  • The patient lies down on a table or bed.
  • The doctor or a healthcare professional performs a lumbar puncture, where a needle is used to withdraw a sample of the cerebrospinal fluid.
  • The sample is then sent to a laboratory for analysis.

Types of CSF Cell Count

There are two types of CSF cell count: manual and automated. Manual CSF cell count requires a laboratory technician to manually count and identify each cell type present in a sample under a microscope. On the other hand, automated CSF cell count uses a flow cytometer to analyze the fluid sample.

Why is CSF Cell Count Done?

A CSF cell count is done to measure the amount of white blood cells present in cerebrospinal fluid. This helps in diagnosing any infection or inflammatory condition of thecentral nervous system. It also helps monitor the effectiveness of treatment.

When is CSF Cell Count Recommended?

A CSF cell count is recommended when a patient is suspected of having meningitis or encephalitis, or any other infection or inflammation of the central nervous system. It is also recommended to monitor the effectiveness of treatment for such conditions.

Risks Associated with CSF Cell Count

The risks associated with a CSF cell count are usually minor. These include: mild headache, backache, nausea, and dizziness. In rare cases, there might be a leakage of the cerebrospinal fluid from the site of puncture. Long-term risks of this procedure are not known.