Laboratory Test Information Guide

Details for Cell Count and Differential,CSF

Test Name: Cell Count and Differential,CSF
Alternate Name(s): CSF Analysis
Laboratory: Core
Specimen Type: Cerebrospinal Fluid
Collection Information: A minimum volume of 1 mL collected in each sterile, sequentially labeled CSF tube.

Only cell counts are performed on the first tube collected.

Cell counts and differential are performed on the last tube collected.
Test Schedule: As required
Turnaround time from when specimen
is received in testing laboratory:
4 hours
1 hour
Reference Range: Cell Counts:

TNC x 106/L RBC x 106/L
< 1 year 0-30 few
1-5 years 0-20 few
6-16 years 0-10 few
Adult 0-5 few


Neonate(%) Adult(%)
Lymphocytes 2-38 63-99
Monocytes 50-94 3-37
Neutrophils 0-8 0-2
Effective Date: 2006-12-27
Revised Date: 2014-02-25
Critical Value:  
Interpretive Comments: CSF is considered to be an irreplaceable specimen and is analyzed regardless of whether there are clots or particular matter present. Counts may be inaccurate in these circumstances.
Special Processing: Send sample to the lab immediately
Method of Analysis: Total nucleated cell counts and RBC counts are performed by manual counting on a Neubauer chamber or by automated analysis on a Hematology analyzer (when appropriate).

Differentials performed by microscopy.
Critical Information Required: It is imperative that the order of draw be accurately reflected by placement into the appropriately labelled sequential collection tube.

Storage & Shipment: Ship sample at room temperature.

Specimens must be received in the laboratory within 1 hour of collection as cells deteriorate quickly. Testing must proceed as quickly as possible following receipt in the laboratory.
System Codes: 
Referred To:  

Questions? Comments? Contact Laura Gopaul