In order to work through a white blood cell case, it is first necessary to recognize which cell populations are present and where in the development process such cell populations reside (the focused scope of this introductory course is on chronic / mature processes). It is important to remember that a flow cytometer is just one of the tools used in diagnosis of a disease, and the information obtained is almost always considered along with cell morphology, cytochemical stains, and other diagnostic indicators.
The decision tree below can be used together with the General Cell Types_Surface Markers table to aid in the resolution of the case studies that follow. These case studies and tools are meant to introduce the principles of flow cytometry. There are additional CD markers and processes that need to be considered in more complicated cases.
All of the following competencies are needed to interpret a case using the principles of flow cytometry:
- Knowledge of CD markers and which CD markers are associated with which cell populations.
- Ability to establish a gated cell population.
- Skill in reading the cytogram and histogram data.