CSF Analysis

Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) Analysis for Pets in South Florida

This test provides one more diagnostic tool that our neurologists at Southeast Veterinary Neurology (SEVN) use to determine what may be wrong with your pet. It can be helpful in diagnosing many neurological conditions, in cases of seizures, walking in circles, balance problems, difficulty walking and other odd behaviors. CSF analysis is most often used in conjunction with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), as the information it gives by itself is limited, but can be extremely useful when combined with an MRI.

What is CSF?

CSF surrounds and supports the brain and spinal cord. It is found in the subarachnoid space, which is located between the layers of the coverings of the brain and spinal cord. Essentially, it provides a cushion and support for your pet’s brain and spinal cord. The fluid is formed within the brain, then flows slowly down the spinal cord toward your pet’s tail. Testing this fluid is done by conducting a CSF analysis.

How is the Analysis Done?

At SEVN, CSF is typically performed immediately after an MRI, while still under anesthesia. An MRI is almost always performed first, as an MRI will help determine whether a CSF analysis is necessary. While your pet is still under anesthesia from the MRI, he or she is positioned and the hair over the area where the CSF tap will be performed is clipped and the skin is aseptically prepared. Sterile gloves are worn. Our skilled, experienced neurologists collect CSF by inserting a needle into the subarachnoid space, allowing the fluid to drip into a sterile collection container. Your pet’s condition is monitored closely before, during and after the procedure.

There are two types of spinal tap. One, known as a cisternal tap, is where the needle is inserted at the base of the head on the back of the neck. This is typically performed when the neurological problem is coming from the brain or neck. The second type of spinal tap, known as a lumbar tap, is performed by inserting the needle in the lower back. This is typically performed when the neurological problem is affecting the middle or lower back.

Why Does My Pet Need a CSF Analysis?

CSF analysis is used along with MRI to diagnose many neurological conditions including tumors, inflammation, infections and others. These conditions may cause symptoms such as neck or back pain, seizures, walking in circles, lack of coordination, balance problems and paralysis. Rest assured, the neurologists at SEVN will only recommend a CSF analysis if it in your pet’s best interest and do not perform it if deemed unnecessary or too risky for your pet’s particular condition.

What is CSF Analysis Used For?

CSF analysis is useful for evaluating the overall health of your pet’s nervous system. It is often used to provide further evidence to narrow down an existing diagnosis and sometimes it can result in a specific diagnosis. Your pet’s CSF is analyzed by looking at the number of nucleated cells (normal is less than five cells/microliter), the type and morphology (appearance) of the cells and the protein level. Certain infections or cancers can be diagnosed on cerebrospinal fluid.

Why Choose SEVN?

SEVN’s staff is the most experienced, expertly-trained staff in all of South Florida when it comes to the neurological health of your pet. Our sole goal is to make your pet healthy again. We have two locations in South Florida and have been helping pets, just like yours, since our founding in 2010. If your pet is walking in circles or shows signs of neck pain, don’t let them suffer. Contact one of our two locations today, so we can help get your four-legged family member back on the road to good health.