CX./VG. Smears are received from clinics and wards already fixed with a spray fixative which is an industrial preparation of alcohol and carbowax.
Non-Gynae. Specimens are received from clinics, wards and the operating theatre fresh in a sterile container. These are assessed on arrival in the laboratory and processed so that the maximum number of cells are harvested in the best possible state of preservation.
Joint fluids are also screened for crystals under polarised light.
FNA’s are either received from Radiology, where they are obtained using a fine needle under Ultrasound guidance or some other form of guidance i.e. CT scan or fluoroscopy. They are also performed on Monday by the Pathologist, if requested by the Clinician by appointment. All the specimens obtained are spread as soon as they are collected and fixed in 95% alcohol. The needles are then washed out in HIV fixative and taken back to the laboratory to process into cell blocks if there is plenty of material, or cytospins if scanty.
Once the slides are ready the Gynaecological smears are stained using the Papanicoloau stain which employs Haematoxylin for the nuclear stain and OG6 and EA50 for the cytoplasmic stains. The Non-gynaecological material is divided and half the slides are stained with Papanicolaou stain the rest with H+E. If special stains are required they are done as and when required.
Once the slides are prepared and stained they are screened and a diagnosis is rendered.
Cytology is a relatively quick and fairly non-invasive method of getting a diagnosis.
Health & Safety
Wear gloves when handling all unfixed specimens- sputum, urine, pleural, ascitic and bronchial fluids.
- Handle all unfixed specimens in a Biological Safety Cabinet.
All suspected/diagnosed HIV, Hepatitis (Hb S positive), TB and all other known infective specimens must be handled in accordance with infected specimen policy.
Discard pots containing Cidex (prepared daily) must be used to dispose specimens and Cytospin filters and cuvettes.
Avoid vigorous shaking of fluid specimens to prevent the formation of aerosols.
- Follow same precautions for handling chemicals as in histopathology.
Avoid use of ether (if it can be helped) in fixing smears as this material is toxic and highly inflammable.