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Normal and Abnormal Cerebrospinal Fluid

Normal Cerebrospinal Fluid

The photos shown here is that of normal cerebrospinal fluid after a lumbar puncture. Normal cerebrospinal fluid is colourless and odorless.


The cerebrospinal fluid here shows xanthochromia (Figure 1), meaning of yellow discolorization. Presence of xanthrochromia means that there is presence of red cells in the cerebrospinal fluid. With time, the red cells breakdown, releasing heme, which is subsequently degraded into the yellow-green pigment bilirubin causing the characteristic yellow colour in patients with xanthochromia. Patients with a strong suspicion of subarachnoid haemorrhage, but with a negative plain cranial computed tomography, should be proceeded to a lumbar puncture to look for xanthochromia.