PTD - 79

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Test Directory - Cerebrospinal fluid



Test Includes

Cell count, microscopy for bacteria, latex tests for bacterial antigens if indicated by other findings.

Bacterial culture, Viral culture and detection of other pathogens may be performed, if indicated by laboratory findings, or if specifically requested.

Request Form 

Microbiology form (Green)


On request
The Microbiology Laboratory MUST be notified prior to sending ALL CSF samples.  Telephone ext 3557 during normal working hours or contact the on-call Microbiology Technician via the hospital switchboard at other times

Specific Criteria

Please give detailed clinical information, including date of onset/contact with any suspected infection and any previous, current, or intended, antibiotic therapy

Turnaround Time

Tests are normally performed on receipt of sample, but may take up to 2 hours if initial microscopy is positive and further tests need to be performed


CSF is collected sequentially (the first few ml. of fluid should not be used). The first fraction should be collected into a grey top fluoride tube for glucose and sent to Biochemistry. CSF for Microbiological investigations should be collected next (2nd and 3rd  fractions) into 2 white capped universals. If CSF spectrophotometry is required then this should be taken last (4th fraction).
N.B. If only 3 CSF fractions can be collected then the last sample should be sent according to suspected diagnosis i.e. ?infection / meningitis send to Microbiology, if ?SAH send to Biochemistry.


Fractions 2 and 3 in 2 x White Capped Universal  (Sterile), fully labelled 


Samples MUST be transported to laboratory immediately

Lab. Handling

Process on receipt 


Version 1.0 / November 2013

Last edited 16/04/14