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CSF Contains High RBC's and Protein?

  I was just wondering what this might mean? My CSF contained high amounts of RBC'S and Protein. Is this normal sometimes? Or could my specimen just might have got contaminated? I am being worked up for multiple sclerosis. I thought if your CSF shows blood in it this is not a good thing. Does it sometimes mean that you are having bleeding going on in the brain?
  Thank you for any information you might beable to shed on this problem. Sincerely, Lisa Coffman
A little bit of blood in the CSF sample sent to the lab is not uncommon. In general, it does not mean that the CSF actually has blood in it, but instead that the spinal tap itself probably nicked a tiny blood vessel and the blood mixed with the CSF as it was being collected, particularly if the spinal tap was technically difficult. This happens quite a bit. In most cases, the clinical scenario makes it clear that the blood is really a contaminant. For example, in cases of subarachnoid hemorrhage (where blood really IS in the CSF from a ruptured aneurysm in the brain, for example), you are not likely to be walking around coming in for an outpatient spinal tap. You are more likely to be in the emergency room with a sudden onset of the worst headache of your life. So you see that interpreting the lab test isn't just a matter of looking at the number but also weighing the whole scenario.
The elevated protein is harder to evaluate. if there are enough RBCs in the CSF, then the breakdown products include proteins which artificially raise the protein count when it is assayed. There are guidelines for trying to estimate this and see if there really is an elevation of protein.
In certain circumstances, the lab test can be repeated if there really is a question of its significance (I'm sure you really wanted to hear that).
I hope this helps. As you know, this information is provided for your general medical education only. Specific comments regarding your diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment options must come from your doctor after appropriate evaluation. CCF MD mdf.

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