CSF is the clear and colourless fluid that cushions and delivers nutrients to your central nervous system (CNS). The CNS consists of the brain and spinal cord.
CSF is produced by the choroid plexus in the brain and then reabsorbed into your bloodstream. The fluid is completely replaced every few hours. In addition to delivering nutrients, CSF flows around your brain and spinal column, providing protection and carrying away waste.
A CSF sample is commonly collected by performing a lumbar puncture, which is also known as a spinal tap. An analysis of the sample. Analysis can include:
- measurement of the physical characteristics and appearance of CSF
- chemical tests on substances found in your spinal fluid or comparisons to levels of similar substances found in your blood
- cell counts and typing of any cells found in your CSF
- identification of any microorganisms that could cause infectious diseases
CSF is in direct contact with your brain and spine. Therefore, CSF analysis is more effective than a blood test for understanding CNS symptoms. However, it’s more difficult to obtain a spinal fluid sample than a blood sample. Entering the spinal canal with a needle requires expert knowledge of the spine’s anatomy and a clear understanding of any underlying brain or spinal conditions that might increase your risk of complications from the procedure.