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Cerebrospinal fluid testing in cats

Posted on 5 August 2021
Cerebrospinal fluid testing in cats

CSF, or cerebrospinal fluid, is crucial for testing various neurological conditions, including fungal or parasitic infections, meningitis, and cancers within the central nervous system.

Procedure Overview:

  • The CSF tap is performed under anaesthesia to ensure the cat remains perfectly still during the procedure.
  • Depending on the case, we may perform either a cisternal tap at the base of the neck or a lumbar tap at the tail base.
  • A small, guided needle is inserted through the spine bones to collect a minute amount of spinal fluid.
  • The collected sample is sent to the laboratory for detailed analysis.

Laboratory Testing:

  • The laboratory examines cell types, protein levels, and searches for infectious agents.
  • Advanced testing methods, such as PCR, may be employed for specific organisms like toxoplasmosis, cryptococcal organisms, or viruses such as coronavirus.
  • Results are typically available within 24 hours.

Potential Complications:

  • Complications are rare but may include trauma to the spinal cord.
  • In severe cases, increased pressure within the brain can lead to brain herniation, an extremely rare but serious complication.
  • We prioritise safety and may conduct advanced imaging, like an MRI, before recommending a spinal tap.


  • Cats generally recover quickly from anaesthesia, and we will promptly update you on the procedure's completion.

If you have any questions or concerns about the CSF tap procedure, feel free to contact us at Cat Specialist Services. Thank you for your attention!

Author:Rachel Korman
Tags:Vets VideosOwners Videos


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