Cerebrospinal Fluid (by LabCE)

2 P.A.C.E. contact hour(s)

(based on 1,213 customer ratings)

Authors: Marjorie A. Spahn, MT(ASCP); Daniel Hapner, MA, MT(ASCP)
Reviewer: Barbara Cebulski, MS, MLS(ASCP)

Course provided by LabCE.

This course covers the preanalytic processes of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) specimen collection and handling and the analytic procedures for CSF analysis in the hematology laboratory. The participant will learn about the physical characteristics of normal and abnormal CSF and the possible cellular findings in an abnormal specimen. The course also provides a review of the manual procedures for counting cellular elements in CSF. The comprehensive treatment is perfect for laboratory cross-training, continuing education, and is appropriate for students preparing for exams.

See more courses in: Hematology

Included In These Course Packages

Continuing Education Credits

P.A.C.E.® Contact Hours (acceptable for AMT, ASCP, and state recertification): 2 hour(s)
Course number 578-047-22, approved through 5/31/2024
Course number 20-916917, approved through 5/31/2024


  • Identify the origin, function, and composition of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).
  • Identify proper CSF specimen handling procedures.
  • Describe the macroscopic appearance of normal and abnormal CSF.
  • Explain manual cell counting techniques for undiluted and diluted CSF samples.
  • Explain CSF smear preparation techniques.
  • Identify nucleated cells that may be observed on a stained CSF smear.
  • Explain the significance of various cells that may be observed in CSF.

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(based on 1,213 customer ratings)

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Course Outline

  • Introduction to Cerebrospinal Fluids
      • What is Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF)?
      • Three Main Functions of CSF
      • Chemical Substances Present in CSF
      • Cells Present in Normal CSF
      • CSF Evaluation and Diagnosis
  • Specimen Collection and Processing
      • CSF Specimen Collection Process
      • Collection Tubes, continued
      • Specimen Labeling and Transport
      • Specimen Handling and Storage
      • Initial Specimen Examination
      • Safety Precautions
  • Macroscopic Characteristics
      • Abnormalities
      • Turbidity
      • Clot/Pellicle
      • Bloody Specimen
      • Detecting Subarachnoid Hemorrhage
      • Xanthochromia
      • Other Causes of Xanthochromia
      • Causes of Xanthochromia in Premature Infants
      • Important Aspects of Xanthochromia
  • Cell counting techniques
      • Normal Cell Counts
      • Examining CSF Using the Hemocytometer
      • Examining CSF Using the Hemocytometer, continued
      • Counting Nucleated Cells in a Bloody CSF Specimen
      • Cell Counting Guidelines
  • Cell Identification
      • Stained Cytospin Preparations of CSF
      • Cytocentrifuge Technique
      • Nucleated Cells That May Be Present In CSF
      • Lymphocytes
      • Neutrophils
      • Bacterial Meningitis
      • Monocyte/Macrophage
      • Macrophages As Indicators of Previous Subarachnoid Hemorrhage (SAH)
      • Normal Peripheral Blood Cells
      • Bone Marrow Contamination of CSF Sample
      • Blast Cells
      • More Blast Cells
      • Malignant Cells
      • Malignant Cells, continued
      • Malignant Cells, continued
  • References
      • References

Additional Information

Level of Instruction: Intermediate
Intended Audience: Medical laboratory scientists, medical technologists and technicians, medical laboratory science students, and pathology residents.
About the Course: This revised course originated as part of a series of courses adapted for the web by MediaLab Inc. under license from Educational Materials for Health Professionals Inc. Dayton OH, 45420. Copyright EMHP.
Course Description: This illustrated course discusses cerebrospinal fluid analysis including specimen collection and handling, macroscopic characteristics, cell counting techniques, and cell identification. Numerous images of cells, and interactive questions throughout the course reinforce concepts and cell identification.

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