Cytopathology

The cytology laboratory and screening room is situated within Pathology at the Royal Sussex County Hospital on Level 6.

The cytology department processes approximately 105,000 cervical cytology samples and 6000 non-gynae samples per annum.

It is part of the Pathology Department which in turn is part of the Central Clinical Services directorate. The laboratory provides a service to the NHS cervical screening programme and also a clinical service for non-gynaecological specimens for the BSUH (Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals) and surrounding General Practitioners.

 

Contact numbers

 
 

Non-gynaecological specimens

Fine needle aspirates (FNA)

 

Effusions

Urine

Joint fluids

Cerebrospinal fluids (CSF)

 

Semenology

Contact numbers

Cytopathology contact numbers are included in the Cellular Pathology contacts - click here.

Opening hours

Monday to Friday, 8.00am to 5pm.

Non-gynaecological specimens

All specimens should reach the department as soon as possible. If there are any queries regarding specimen collection/preparation please telephone the laboratory on ext. 4409 before sample collection. If a specimen is taken out of hours (especially if the correct specimen container is not available), the specimen should be refrigerated until the cytopathology laboratory is open, but note that CSF specimens are unlikely to be suitable for processing if refrigerated. Specimen results will usually be available within 7 days of receipt of specimen. The results for specimens which require extra investigations such as cell blocks and specimens linked with Histology may take longer then 7 days for the report to be available.

Specimen containers

300 mL bottles containing fixative for Urine cytology, 500 mL bottles containing EDTA for effusions, and 60 mL Sterilin container with metal lid for semen samples are available from the pathology store, ext. 4407.

Urgent specimens

Telephone the laboratory giving the nature of the specimen, the patient’s details, when results are required, who to contact and their bleep/phone number.
 

Fine needle aspirates (FNA)

The material obtained should be gently spread onto frosted end glass slides and rapidly air dried.  The slides must be clearly labelled in pencil with the patient’s name and date of birth and the site of aspiration. Slides must be completely dry before they are put into transport boxes. If fluid is aspirated this can be put in a blood bottle containing EDTA (pink top blood bottle).

Respiratory tract

Sputum, bronchial washings/lavages

The whole specimen should be sent in a wide mouthed, screw-capped container or trap and should reach the laboratory the same day. Sputum specimens should be three early morning sputums taken on successive days before breakfast to avoid contamination with food or toothpaste.

Nasal, pharyngeal swabs, buccal smears and bronchial brushings

Bronchial brushings and swabs/buccal smears should be smeared gently onto frosted end glass slides and fixed immediately with cytology fixative. Allow 10 minutes before putting the slide in the transport box. The slides must be clearly labelled in pencil with the patient’s name and date of birth.

Gastrointestinal tract

 

Washings and lavage specimens

The whole specimen should be sent in a wide mouthed, screw capped container and should reach the laboratory the same day.

Endoscopic brushings

Brushings should be smeared gently onto frosted end glass slides and fixed immediately with cytology fixative.  Allow 10 minutes before putting the slide in the transport box. The slides must be clearly labelled in pencil with the patient’s name and date of birth.

Effusions

Effusions consist of pericardial, pleural, ascitic or peritoneal fluids. Specimens should be collected in 500ml bottles labelled “FOR CYTOLOGY OF EFFUSIONS”. These bottles contain an anticoagulant (EDTA) to prevent clotting.

Urine

Types of suitable samples include: voided, catheter, bladder washings and ileal loop urine.  Specimens are collected in 300 ml bottles labelled “FOR URINE CYTOLOGY ONLY”.

The bottle contains fixative (alcohol and glacial acetic acid). Complete voided specimens are required. Midstream urine is not suitable for cytology as cells are often passed at the beginning and at the end of voiding. Early morning urine is also unsuitable because it contains degenerate cells, causing difficulty in interpretation.

Joint fluids

Synovial specimens should be received in sterile pots.  Send an aliquot fresh to the Cytopathology department in an anticoagulant-free container.

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)

The CSF should be collected in a sterile universal container universal without fixative (plastic is preferable as some cells adhere to glass). Samples must reach laboratory promptly (max. two hours). Please notify the laboratory that the sample is to arrive. Specimens should be taken allowing sufficient time to reach the laboratory as if refrigerated overnight the sample may be unreadable the next day.