Diagnostic Cytology

Description: 
The Department offers a full diagnostic Cytology service, processing a wide range of non-cervical Cytology specimens.
Sample type and Volume required: 
All specimens must be labelled with the patient's full name and date of birth and accompanied by a request form that has been completed in full. Request form and specimen should be delivered to the cytology laboratory in plastic transport bags.

High risk specimens must be labelled as such to ensure that laboratory staff when handling these specimens take appropriate precautions.

Body fluids e.g. pleural fluid, ascites, synovial fluid, hydrocoele fluid, breast cyst fluid should be put in a dry 60ml plastic specimen container. Please provide at least 25ml of fluid from body cavity fluids to enable full analysis to take place, including immunocytochemistry when appropriate.

Sputum. Specimens of early morning “deep cough” sputum should be submitted on three consecutive days. The specimens should be put in a 60ml. plastic specimen container.

Please note. Cells degenerate rapidly. Samples for cytological examination must be sent to the laboratory as soon as possible.
Any high- risk specimens, e.g. HIV infection, Hepatitis B or C, should be identified clearly on both the sample and request form.

FNA Samples

Direct Slides
Microscope slides should be labelled clearly at the frosted end with the patient’s forename, surname and date of birth. Please label in PENCIL as ink is dissolved by the laboratory staining techniques. The preparations must be air-dried quickly and placed in a plastic slide carrier. The slide carrier and request form (see Request Form Acceptance Criteria) should be promptly transported in a plastic sample bag pouch/pocket to the laboratory.

Needle Washings
Needle washings should be collected in saline (injection type). The needle can be flushed through with saline. The washings should be sent in a universal container labelled with the patient’s forename, surname, date of birth and NHS number or Hospital number. The universal container and request form (see Request Form Acceptance Criteria) should be promptly transported in a plastic sample bag pouch/pocket to the laboratory.

Direct slides and needle washing samples should be sent together

*Fluid Specimens*

These include urine, serous fluids, sputum, cyst aspirates, washings and CSF’s. A sample of 20ml maximum size is adequate for cytology in almost all cases. Larger volumes should not be sent to the laboratory without prior approval from the laboratory. It is appreciated that some samples, such as CSF’s, are often of low volume and smaller samples are acceptable in such circumstances.

Fluid specimens should be sent to the laboratory without delay in a suitable specimen container. The container should be labelled with the patient’s first and last name and NHS number or hospital number or date of birth. The label should also include the type of specimen and site of sample, if appropriate. The specimen and the request form should be sent to the laboratory in a plastic specimen bag.

*Brushings and FNA Specimens*

FNA specimens and brushings should be spread on frosted end slides. The slides should be labelled in pencil (ink is washed off in processing) to include the patients name and date of birth. If samples are taken from multiple sites, it will be necessary to number the slides to indicate the sources. The slides may be air dried for low viscosity specimens or wet fixed if the material is mucoid. Ideally, if sufficient material is available, slides prepared by both methods should be sent. Slides must be placed in slide transport boxes and placed in a specimen bag with the request form for delivery to the laboratory.

Excess material can be expressed into physiological saline or tissue culture fluid and sent to the laboratory as for fluid specimens.
Turnaround time: 
Diagnostic cytology reports are typically available twenty-four to forty-eight hours from receipt of the specimen, unless ancillary studies are required.
Special sample instructions: 

Further advice on any aspect of specimen collection, transport, or suitability for examination can be obtained from the cytology laboratory

Storage and transport: 
Further advice on any aspect of specimen collection, transport, or suitability for examination can be obtained from the cytology laboratory
Time limit for extra tests: 
Immunocytochemistry
Contacts:
Cellular Pathology at Bedford Hospital
01234 792149 (4607) / 01234 355122 (4611)
Bedford Hospital NHS Trust
Kempston Road
Bedford
Bedfordshire
MK42 9DJ

For clinical advice or interpretation of results, please contact the laboratory in the first instance.

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Last updated: 07/01/2016