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Pathology Departments Requesting & Reporting Blood Test Information Phlebotomy Guide Contact us


Opening Hours

The cytology laboratory is open from 09:00 to 17:30 from Monday to Friday.

A Consultant Pathologist is available on call, out of normal hours, through switchboard. Please feel free to contact any one of the consultants and members of laboratory staff for advice about any aspect of our service.

Cytology is in Department B38 (Pathology Laboratory Building).

General Safety Precautions

All cytological specimens are potentially hazardous. They must be collected and transported in appropriate, well-sealed containers. Small specimens containers must be placed leak-proof plastic bags supplied by the laboratory . High risk specimens should be placed in a suitable container, sealed against leakage with tape, and labelled with a "HIGH RISK" or "DANGER OF INFECTION" label. The completed request form must also bear the appropriate biohazard label.

The following conditions are considered particularly hazardous and all specimens from patients with these conditions should bear the appropriate biohazard labels:

HIV, brucellosis, typhoid, leptospirosis, rabies, tuberculosis, viral hepatitis, Creutzfeld Jacob disease (or any other prion disease), septicaemia of any type.

Please consult Microbiology or the Department of Cellular Pathology if there are any queries regarding any of these, or other infective conditions you may encounter in clinical practice.

Urgent Samples

Please telephone the Cytology Laboratory on ext 4721 if the specimen you are sending is urgent and you require an immediate result.

Factors known to significantly affect the performance of the examination or the interpretation of cytology results

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Cytology Tests

Cytology Specimens

All specimens must be labelled with three correct patient identifiers and accompanied with a completed cytology request form.

Bronchial brushings

Send to laboratory in Cytolyt Solution. Please telephone Cytology lab on ext 5507 for supplies of solution.

Bronchial washings/lavage specimens

Send to the laboratory in a sterile universal container as soon as possible.

Fluids from body cavities

(eg. pleural, peritoneal, pericardial and hydrocoele fluid)

Send to lab in a labelled, plain, sterile universal container without fixative as soon as possible.


Freshly voided urine, the SECOND sample of the day should be sent in a plain sterile container (without formalin). The first specimen of the day is not suitable as this contains degenerate cells which have been lying in the bladder overnight and which are unsuitable for assessment.

Fine needle aspirates

Smear lengthwise directly onto slides labelled in pencil with correct identifiers on frosted end of slide, ensuring that the specimen is on the same side as the labelling. Spread well (do not leave a dense mass on a small area in the centre of the slide), air-dry rapidly and place in plastic slide box. Then send directly to the laboratory.

Cerebrospinal fluid (min volume of 1 ml required wherever possible)

Place in a labelled sterile universal container without fixative and send to the laboratory immediately.

Synovial fluid for crystal analysis

Place in a labelled sterile universal container without fixative and send to the laboratory immediately. Crystal analysis is performed by the cytology laboratory and so samples must be accompanied by a completed Histology/Cytology Laboratory Request form. Please send a separate sample to microbiology if required.

Breast cyst fluid

Send in a labelled sterile, universal container without fixative.

Thyroid aspirations from Endocrinology and needle washings from Ultrasound

Material obtained for cytology should be placed in a universal container containing RPMI culture medium. Please note that RPMI medium is highly susceptible to contamination so please check expiry date before use. Tubes of RPMI are only supplied in small numbers. Please call Cytology Office ext 4721 to arrange for further supplies.

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Fertility Analysis

Semen Samples for Fertility Analysis

These tests are carried out by appointment only and are available Tuesdays and Thursdays only. The patient should telephone the Cytology Laboratory office on 01225 824721 to make the appointment and should bring the sample to the laboratory on the day of the appointment in sufficient time that it may be analysed within one hour of production. Further details are provided in the patient instruction sheet (see below).

Once patient has booked an appointment the laboratory will send out a kit to the surgery for collection by the patient. The kit will include instructions, Histology/Cytology request form and appropriate toxicity-tested container.

Post Vasectomy samples: These are done by prior arrangement with clinics.

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Turnaround Times

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