Cerebrovascular fluid (CSF) tests

Author:  Gesche Tallen, MD, PhD, Editor:  Maria Yiallouros, Reviewer:  Prof. Dr. med. Ursula Creutzig, English Translation:  Hannah McRae, Last modification: 2015/01/13 https://kinderkrebsinfo.de/doi/e2012

The cerebrovascular fluid (CSF) is a clear fluid that fills the cavities of the brain. It also floats around the surfaces of the brain and the spinal cord. The main function of the CSF is to lubricate the tissues and to cushion them from shock and injury.

Some cancers spread their cells into the CSF, thereby causing so-called brain or CSF metastases. Children with brain metastases often receive chemotherapy directly into their CSF. Also, some infections can affect the CSF.

Therefore, CSF diagnostics are performed in certain cancer patients in order to

  • find the cause for an infection
  • detect tumour cells
  • determine the concentration of chemotherapy agents during treatment

The doctors obtain a sample of a patient's CSF by performing a so-called lumbar or ventricular puncture. Here, you will find more information on how these procedures are done.