A CSF specimen is obtained by spinal tap and should be collected in sterile tubes and submitted to the laboratory as soon as possible. Ordinarily, three samples are collected in sterile tubes, labeled sequentially as No 1 (chemistry and immunology studies), No 2 (microbiological examination), and No 3 (cell count and differential).
Tubes must be labeled with the patient's full name, date, time of collection, and with the number indicating the sequence in which the tubes were obtained.
Refrigerated (preferred) - 15 days
Ambient - 3 days