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Rheumatol Int. 2014 Jun;34(6):773-6. doi: 10.1007/s00296-013-2689-0. Epub 2013 Feb 7.

The cytospin technique improves the detection of calcium pyrophosphate crystals in synovial fluid samples with a low leukocyte count.

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  • 1Central Laboratory, Department of Internal Medicine, Hospital Barmherzige Brueder Graz-Eggenberg, Bergstrasse 27, 8020, Graz, Austria,


In synovial fluids (SF) with low leukocyte or/and crystal counts, important features may be missed, if exclusively smears are examined by polarized microscopy. That may be overcome by cytocentrifuges, which use low-speed centrifugal force to concentrate cells onto a glass slide and thus enhance the number of cells per high power field (HPF). We compared the calcium pyrophosphate (CPP) crystal counts in cytospin preparations with those in common smears of SF. The number of CPP crystals was counted in 50 SF samples by polarized microscopy, and statistical comparisons of the mean values of the cytospin and smear preparations were performed using the Wilcoxon test. The reproducibility within the slides of the cytocentrifuge and smear samples was determined by Spearman's rank correlation. The crystal counts were significantly higher in the cytospin than in the smear preparations (median 96/10 HPF vs. 2.5/10 HPF, p < 0.0001). The correlation in the crystal count between the slides 1 and 2 was significantly higher within the cytocentrifuge than in the smear group (0.97 vs. 0.73, p = 0.0004). CPP-negative cytospin preparations in initially smear-positive slides were not observed. We confirmed that the cytospin technique significantly enhances the number of examinable crystals per HPF, compared to common smears.

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