Cytology Specimens

Cytology reports describe the microscopic examination of cells in body fluids such a sputum, bronchial washings and brushings, pleural fluid, peritoneal fluid, spinal fluid, aspirations from bone marrow, and cervical smears. The Papanicolaou (Pap) smear, used for detection of abnormal cervical cells, is probably the most widely known cytology specimen.

  • Cells can also be obtained by fine-needle aspiration to diagnose cancers of the liver, pancreas, breast, and lung. The most common ways of obtaining cells include brushing the lining of an organ, puncturing the cavity and removing fluid, scraping the lining, or using a swab to obtain secretions.
    • Thoracentesis is a puncturing of the thoracic or chest cavity for the removal of fluid.
    • Paracentesis is the puncture of the abdominal cavity for removal of fluid.

There may be multiple cytology reports. It is important to note the source of the specimen, the histologic description, and pertinent findings, along with interpretations.

Updated: March 4, 2024