Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fun-a-day 22: Spinal Tap and Meningitis

For today's block, I decided to try to "draw" what we'd see on a "hemocytometer" when we look at spinal fluid in a patient with meningitis.  A hemocytometer is used when we want exact counts of cells in a specific amount of liquid.  When we fill the very precise chamber with fluid, using a tiny pipette, only a certain amount of fluid covers the grid lines on the special calibrated glass slide.  It has grid lines that we can use to count and calculate the number we see.  Yes, lots of math!  We not only count spinal fluid cells this way, but also body fluids like pleural or peritoneal.  We also use the hemocytometer to count sperm in the sperm count.

A normal spinal fluid sample would have almost nothing in it.  It's a crystal clear fluid that surrounds the spinal cord and brain.  A spinal tap is very invasive, so we treat the samples in the lab with great care and urgency.  We usually run many tests on it, from cell counts, types, cultures, chemistry, and some are even done at the bedside.  If we do see a significant number of cells, we'll do a differential, letting the doctor know what type they are.  This is important, because once again, if it's a virus, the cells will mostly be lymphocytes.  If it's bacterial meningitis, we'll see mostly neutrophils.  Bacterial meningitis is an incredibly serious illness, and is also contagious.  Thank goodness that we now have some vaccines to help prevent some of the bacterial meningitis, as it's one of the most devastating illnesses we can see in a young child or a young adult.

Once again, this is a "wet prep", so no pretty colors.  Since my husband grew up in Chicago,['; I decided to use some orange thread to go with the blue background (Go Bears!)!!  I also tried using 2 top threads instead of 1.  The little round circles are supposed to be white blood cells.  I'm not too thrilled with the result, or the whole block in general, but I can say I tried something new today!!

Speaking of something new, here's a new ebook cover that I put in my Etsy shop today!  I LOVE this fabric!! Fun!

1 comment:

biotek_ka said...

Fun idea! I came across your blog while looking for images of lymphocytes on a hemocytometer (I work in the medical/biotech field). I'd love to see more science/art inspirations!