Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)
Please number containers clearly (1,2,3 etc), tube 3 should be labelled for MC&S and will be used for the cell count. A high WBC count along with a positive Gram stain supports a diagnosis of bacterial meningitis, but a negative Gram stain does not exclude meningitis. Where subarachnoid bleed is suspected please send 3 tubes (numbered 1,2 & 3) so that comparison can be made between a traumatic tap and SAH. Microbiology will perform microscopy, isolation, identification and susceptibility of any organism likely to be pathogenic. Microscopy results are available within 4 hours of receipt of sample, negative culture results will be issued at 48 hrs, positive cultures 2-3 days.
Where possible, send separate tubes for separate tests as specimens may be processed for a wide range of tests in different departments including virology, cryptococcal Ag, AAFB, where clinically indicated. Likewise any specimens for cytopathological examination should be sent separately as MC&S will render specimens unusable for this. If Xanthachromia is required, send a tube to Reference Chemistry, this should be covered to avoid light damage.
Use of sterile technique for performing lumbar puncture and decanting sample into sterile universal containers. Ensure sufficient CSF is collected for the tests requested. If in doubt, contact the medical microbiologist.
North Wing - 5th Floor
Westminster Bridge Road
London SE1 7EH
Core opening hours: Monday-Friday 0900-1730
Last updated: 27/11/2017