CSF smear

What is a CSF Smear?

A cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) smear is a diagnostic test used to examine cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) for the presence or absence of abnormal cells or proteins. It is part of an evaluation for a variety of neurological conditions.

Preparation for a CSF Smear

In most cases, no special preparation is needed for a CSF smear. However, the doctor may ask that the patient’s blood sugar be monitored or the patient may be asked to stop taking certain medications.

Procedure for a CSF Smear

The procedure for a CSF smear is generally simple. A sample of CSF is taken from the patient using a hollow needle. The sample is then stained and covered with a glass slide. The slides are viewed under a microscope and analyzed for the presence of abnormal cells or proteins.

Types of CSF Smears

There are several types of CSF smears. These include:

  • Wright-Giemsa: Used to look for the presence of white blood cells (WBCs) or red blood cells (RBCs).
  • Gram Stain: Used to look for bacteria.
  • Flow cytometry: Used to identify the type of cell present in a sample of CSF.
  • Immunocytochemistry: Used to identify cells and determine their nature.

Risks of a CSF Smear

Most of the risks associated with a CSF smear are minor and include pain, headache, dizziness, and nausea. If the patient takes too long to recover from the procedure, they should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

When is a CSF Smear Used?

A CSF smear is usually requested when a doctor suspects a patient has a neurological disorder or is experiencing signs or symptoms that could be caused by an infection or inflammation. It is also used to monitor treatment progress.

Why is a CSF Smear Important?

A CSF smear is important as it can help determine the cause of a certain symptom or identify a specific disease. It can also help distinguish between viral and bacterial infections more quickly and accurately. The results of a CSF smear test can be used to guide the treatment of neurological diseases.