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Flow cytometry for the microscopy of body fluids in patients with suspected infection
  1. Giuseppe Enrico Bignardi1,2
  1. 1South of Tyne and Wear Pathology, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Tyne and Wear, UK
  2. 2NE9 6SX and Microbiology Department, Sunderland Royal Hospital, Sunderland, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Giuseppe Enrico Bignardi, Microbiology Department, Sunderland Royal Hospital, Kayll Road, Sunderland (UK), SR4 7TP; Giuseppe.Bignardi{at}


Automating the microscopy of body fluids is challenging, due to the wider range and lower concentrations of cells in these fluids, as opposed to blood, while the viscous nature of some of these fluids can also be problematic. This review shows that there have been major improvements and that newer flow cytometers can have remarkably low limits of quantitation for WBCs. Accurate counting of RBCs is still problematic with many flow cytometers, but this is of no clinical significance. Many flow cytometers can give reasonably accurate WBC differential counts, but detection of eosinophils and neoplastic or other nucleated cells which are not blood cells can still be problematic, hence fail-safe measures are recommended. Cerebrospinal fluid is the most challenging body fluid as it requires the ability to count and differentiate WBCs down to a ‘normal range’, which is much lower than the diagnostic cut-off values used for serous fluids; precision at or around the cerebrospinal fluid WBC normal range is reduced even with the best flow cytometers, but manual microscopy is even less precise.


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