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Laboratory Medicine

General Information / Cytology Specimen Collection

Non Gynaecological Cytology Specimen Collection Information:

All samples:  Please ensure the request form is not placed directly in the bag with the sample but attached to the outside pocket of the bag. Sample bags with a pocket are available for this purpose.

Endoscopy samples:  Samples from endoscopy clinic (brushings, washings and endobronchial ultrasound bronchoscopy (EBUS) should be placed into a 30ml universal container containing CytoRich Red fluid. These should be sent to the laboratory as soon as possible.

Fine Needle Aspiration Non-Gynae Cytology:  Cell samples taken by aspiration from solid lumps should have the needle and syringe rinsed in Cytorich red fluid if required material can be spread thinly onto glass slides and air-dried by waving the slides vigorously in the air, particularly if there is a lot of blood contamination. The laboratory provides an immediate reporting service for FNA samples if required. The doctor requiring the service should phone extension 6258 to request immediate reporting and this should be agreed with the reporting Cytopathologist. They should send the sample to the laboratory immediately. The request form must clearly state where the report should be sent and the telephone extension number highlighted.

Serous and Cyst Fluids:  A fresh representative specimen should be sent to the laboratory in a 25mL white-topped Universal container. These should reach the laboratory as soon as possible, but if they are taken at the weekend or out of hours they can be refrigerated.

Seminal fluids/Sperm samples for fertility and post vasectomy analysis:  For comprehensive information for all aspaect of the service please use the following link:

Sputum:  Sputum samples should only be sent for cytology if there is a reasonable suspicion of malignancy in patients who are unsuitable for bronchoscopy. In most cases the respiratory pathology is due to infection which resolves on treatment. Sputum should only be sent if the clinical symptoms and radiological findings do not resolve after a course of treatment. The pick-up rate for malignant cells is very low because of inappropriate patient selection. Examination of sputum samples is an expensive and time-consuming process.

Early morning specimens of sputum on three consecutive days are desirable, and these should be obtained before eating and oral hygiene have been commenced.  The specimen should be a deep cough specimen and sent straight to the laboratory.

Urine:  A fresh sample of urine (not the first early morning specimen) is required, some 30mL being sufficient.  The specimen should reach the laboratory as soon as possible.

Cytology Specimen Container guide:  

Type of container

Used for

60mL sterile container





60mL sterile container (pre weighed & toxicity tested)


Fertility & Vasectomy samples

25mL white-topped Universal container

ascitic fluid

pleural fluid

cyst fluid



Web page 47 last updated: 23/12/2021

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