Lab Test

Specimen Collection Manual: Body Fluids for Cell Counts & Related Crystal Analysis



  • EDTA is the preferred anticoagulant for body fluids that have a high probability of clotting.
  • No anticoagulant should be added to CSF.
  • CSF cell counts should be collected in tube #4 when possible.
  • For crystal analysis, Sodium Heparin is the preferred anticoagulant.

Specimen Collection Criteria

The protocol for proper CSF collection requires that an aliquot of CSF be placed in sequentially numbered and properly labeled sterile tubes as the fluid is collected. Specimens are usually collected in four sterile tubes, which are labeled 1, 2, 3, and 4 in the order in which they are drawn. The CSF tubes/containers, included in the CSF kit, have numbers 1-4 etched near the top of the container. The tube labeled #1 is collected first. Tube #4 should be submitted for the cell count when possible.

csf specimen collection kit

Rejection Criteria

  • Body fluids submitted in bags, bottles, or syringes (with or without a needle).
  • Fluids greater than 24 hours old should be not be analyzed for cell count due to deterioration and/or lysis of cells.
  • Specimens that are totally clotted are unacceptable and must be re-obtained.
  • For crystal analysis, specimens collected in powdered NaEDTA, K3EDTA, oxalate, or Lithium Heparin are NOT acceptable since each may be associated with crystal formation. In addition, Red-top tubes may contain a clot activator which is prohibitive to crystal analysis.


Applicable Tests:


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