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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Cerebrospinal Fluid. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Initial Specimen Examination

The technologist is responsible for examining CSF samples as they are received. If any of the following conditions are present, the results of testing could be uninterpretable:

  • Tubes are not labeled, or there is an error in patient identification information.*
  • Tubes are not numbered.
  • Specimen contains a blood clot.
  • Specimen contains less than 0.5 ml CSF.
*Usually, best practice is to reject specimens that are not labeled, or labeled incorrectly; however, CSF is a specimen that cannot be recollected. Therefore, the laboratory should have a policy that permits correction of patient identification information on specimens that cannot, or cannot easily, be recollected.