UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Neurology

Title: Xanthochromia in CSF

Keywords: xanthochromia, intracranial bleed, cerebrospinal fluid, CSF (PubMed Search)

Posted: 11/1/2007 by Aisha Liferidge, MD (Updated: 7/10/2020)
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  • Xanthochromia is the result of metabolized hemoglobin in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which suggests intracranial bleed.
  • It helps differentiate traumatic lumbar puncture results from true intracranial bleeding.
  • It causes the CSF to have a yellowish color which can be detected with the naked eye or analyzed with a machine (done visually at UMMS).
  • It typically takes at least 6 hours for xanthochromia to manifest itself.