Lab Test

Culture, CSF

CSF Culture, Bacterial Meningitis

Test Codes





  • Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is not routinely cultured for anaerobic organisms. Prior approval from the Microbiology Laboratory is required.
  • CSF obtained from a shunt will be cultured for anaerobic organisms. If the specimen is from a shunt, this must be clearly noted on the test request.
  • The proper collection of this specimen cannot be over-emphasized. Specimens which are improperly collected may yield misleading results. See Specimen Collection Manual, CSF.

Specimen Collection Criteria

Collect: Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in a sterile collection container, under aseptic conditions.

Physician Office/Draw Specimen Preparation

Maintain at room temperature (20-26°C or 68-78.8°F) and arrange for STAT transportation to the Laboratory. Courier Services must be contacted for a STAT pickup at 1-800-551-0488.

Preparation for Courier Transport

Transport: STAT CSF in a sterile collection container, at room temperature (20-26°C or 68-78.8°F).

Rejection Criteria

  • Unlabeled or improperly labeled specimens.
  • Specimens in non-sterile containers.

Inpatient Specimen Preparation

Transport specimen STAT to the Laboratory.


Specimen Stability for Testing:

Room Temperature (20-26°C or 68-78.8°F): Less than 24 hours*
Refrigerated (2-8°C or 36-46°F): Unacceptable
Frozen (-20°C/-4°F or below): Unacceptable

*The likelihood of recovery of microbial pathogens is significantly decreased after this time.

Specimen Storage in Department Prior to Disposal:

Refrigerated (2-8°C or 36-46°F): 7 days


Gram Stain
Dearborn Microbiology Laboratory
Farmington Hills Microbiology Laboratory
Grosse Pointe Microbiology Laboratory
Royal Oak Microbiology Laboratory
Taylor Laboratory
Trenton Laboratory
Troy Microbiology Laboratory
Wayne Laboratory 

Dearborn Microbiology Laboratory
Taylor, Trenton and Wayne sent to Dearborn Microbiology Laboratory for testing.

Royal Oak Microbiology Laboratory
Farmington Hills, Grosse Pointe, and Troy sent to Royal Oak Microbiology Laboratory for testing.


Sunday – Saturday, 24 hours a day.
Gram Stain results available within 1 hour of receipt in the Laboratory.
Preliminary results available within 24 hours.

Reference Range

No organisms recovered.

Test Methodology

Gram Stain and Culture.


The recovery of microorganisms from an appropriate, properly collected specimen may be indicative of an infectious disease process.

Clinical Utility

This test is used to recover and identify microorganisms that may be involved in meningitis.


Church, D.L., 2016, Cerebrospinal Fluid Cultures, in Leber, A.L., Editor-in-Chief, Clinical Microbiology Procedures Handbook, 4th edition, section 3.7.1.

CPT Codes

87070 (Aerobic Culture), 87205 (Gram Stain).
LOINC:  606-4


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