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Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) Bacterial Culture (8000100214)
Test Mnemonic:


Specimen Requirements:

Clean the puncture site with antiseptic solution and alcohol before needle insertion.

  1. Insert a needle with stylet at the L3-L4 or L4-L5 or L5-S1 interspaced.  When the subarachnoid space is reached, remove the stylet and spinal fluid will appear in the needle hub.

  2. Slowly drain the CSF into the sterile leak-proof tubes.  Three separate tubes are generally required for Microbiology, Hematology, and Chemistry testing.  The second tube will generally go to Microbiology and the third to Hematology.  Specimens for viral culture are sent on ice.


Sterile container

Minimum Volume:

1 ml


Transport immediately, do not refrigerate

Specimen Preparation:

Tube #2 is requested for cultures


24 hours

Causes for Rejection:

Refrigerated samples, insufficient quantity for all requested tests. Specimen container unlabeled or labeled incorrectly. No date and time of collection on requisition form.

Reference Range:

No organisms isolated

Turnaround Time:

2-3 Days


Gram stain, culture for the isolation and identification of bacteria, includes susceptibility testing when appropriate.


Clinical Microbiology


CSF culture; Culture, CSF; Cerebrospinal fluid culture; Meningitis culture

Clinical Indication:

Suspected CSF  infection, meningitis

Patient Preparation :

Lumbar spine puncture

CPT 4 Code:

87070- culture, 87205 - gram stain, additional codes if indicated


Positive gram stains and cultures are considered to be critical lab results and the LIP will be notified on the first occurrence.

When ordering tests for which Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement will be sought, physicians should only order tests that are medically necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of the patient. Components of the organ or disease panels may be ordered individually. The diagnostic information must substantiate all tests ordered and must be in the form of an ICD-10 code or its verbal equivalent.
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