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CSF Specialist

Shankle Clinic

Neurology Specialists located in Newport Beach, CA

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) testing is a service offered by William Shankle, MS, MD, FACP, and the team at Shankle Clinic in Newport Beach, California. You may need CSF testing following an injury or to diagnose a suspected infection, an autoimmune disorder, or another condition. If you have questions about CSF testing services or you’d like to schedule an appointment, call the office or use the convenient online booking feature.


What is CSF testing?

Cerebrospinal fluid flows through hollow spaces in and around your brain and spinal cord, where it delivers essential nutrients and removes waste products from your brain. The fluid also flows between two layers of tissue that cover the brain and spinal nerves, serving as a cushion that protects the delicate tissues and nerves from injury. 

CSF testing is a procedure in which a small amount of your cerebrospinal fluid is withdrawn. Then the fluid is examined for substances that help diagnose diseases found in the brain and spinal cord. For example, your CSF test may reveal the presence of white blood cells, bacteria, viral DNA, cancer cells, or antibodies. 

When might I need CSF testing?

Your doctor at Shankle Clinic may perform a CSF test when your symptoms indicate problems like an infection (meningitis or encephalitis), an autoimmune disorder (multiple sclerosis), a brain tumor, or bleeding in your brain. Patients who have suffered a brain or spinal cord injury often need CSF testing.

You may have many different symptoms that would indicate the need for CSF testing. A few examples include:

  • Fever
  • Seizures
  • Dizziness
  • Stiff neck
  • Severe headache
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Confusion
  • Changes in behavior
  • Nausea and vomiting

Motor symptoms such as muscle spasms, rigidity, tremor, and muscle weakness may also signal the need to test your cerebrospinal fluid.

What should I expect during CSF testing?

The procedure for removing a sample of your CSF is called a lumbar puncture. During the procedure, you lie on your side or sit on an exam table. In both positions, you bend forward or curve over, so your back is rounded.

Your provider applies a local anesthetic, then inserts a thin, hollow needle between two vertebrae. He may use fluoroscopy, a special X-ray technique that allows him to see your spine and guide the needle.

When the needle is in place, your provider measures CSF pressure and draws a sample of the fluid into the needle. While the procedure only takes about five minutes, you need to stay still the entire time. You also need to lie down for a while afterward to prevent a post-lumbar puncture headache. 

If you need to schedule CSF testing services, call Shankle Clinic or use the online booking feature.