How are cytologic studies of CSF from lumbar puncture (LP) used?

Updated: Aug 02, 2018
  • Author: Gil Z Shlamovitz, MD, FACEP; Chief Editor: Helmi L Lutsep, MD  more...
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Answer

A larger-than-usual number of white blood cells (WBCs) suggests an infection or, more rarely, leukemic infiltration. In addition, inflammation from any source can raise the WBC count. A traumatic tap, of course, introduces WBCs and red blood cells (RBCs) into the CSF. An approximation of 1 WBC for every 1000 RBCs can be made, though a repeat tap may be preferable. Although no normal value for RBCs in the CSF is known, an occasional RBC may be incident to the tap itself.


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