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Cytology - Specimen Collection Advice

Cervical Cytology Specimen Collection Information Click Here

Non Gynaecological Cytology Collection Information:

Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology

Cell samples taken by aspiration from solid lumps should 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. Afterwards the needle and syringe should be rinsed in the needle washing fluid which should also be sent together with the glass slides for examination. The laboratory provides an immediate reporting service for FNA samples if required. The doctor requiring the service should phone extension 6332 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 infertility and post vasectomy analysis Click Here


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.


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)

sputum & vasectomy samples 

Infertility samples

25mL white-topped Universal container

ascitic fluid

pleural fluid

cyst fluid



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