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Vet J. 2009 Apr;180(1):15-32. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2007.11.024. Epub 2008 Feb 21.

The function, composition and analysis of cerebrospinal fluid in companion animals: part II - analysis.

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Department of Veterinary Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011-1250, USA.


Accurate analysis of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) provides a wide range of information about the neurological health of the patient. CSF can be withdrawn from either of two cisterns in dogs and cats using relatively safe techniques. Once CSF has been collected it must be analysed immediately and methodically. Evaluation should consist of macroscopic, quantitative and microscopic analyses. As part of a quantitative analysis, cell counts and infectious disease testing are the most important and potentially sensitive indicators of disease. Although certain pathologies can be described, microscopic analysis will rarely be specific for any disease, emphasising the adjunctive nature of this diagnostic modality.

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