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J Feline Med Surg. 2005 Apr;7(2):77-93.

Inflammatory cerebrospinal fluid analysis in cats: clinical diagnosis and outcome.

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  • 1Veterinary Specialist Centre, PO Box 307, North Ryde, NSW 2113, Australia.


The medical records of 62 cats with clinical signs of central nervous system disease and accompanying inflammatory cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis were examined retrospectively to determine if signalment, clinical signs, CSF analysis and ancillary testing could accurately predict the type of central nervous system disease that was present. An inflammatory CSF was defined as one in which a total nucleated cell count was greater than 5 cells/microl or one in which the total nucleated cell count was normal but the nucleated cell differential count was abnormal. Sex, degree of CSF inflammation, neuroanatomical location and systemic signs provided little contributory information to the final diagnosis. In 63% of the cases a presumptive diagnosis could be made based on a combination of clinical signs, clinicopathological data and ancillary diagnostic tests. CSF analysis alone was useful only in the diagnosis of cats with feline infectious peritonitis, Cryptococcus species infection, lymphoma and trauma. Overall, despite extensive diagnostic evaluation, a specific diagnosis could not be made in 37% of cats. The prognosis for cats with inflammatory CSF was poor with 77% of cats surviving less than 1 year.

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