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Non-gynae cytology specimens are either fluid based or received as smears of fine needle aspirations (FNA) or imprints of tissue biopsies on glass slides.
Specimens should be sent in sample containers of an appropriate size to adequately hold the specimen. Some specimens are received fresh, with no additives and therefore should be delivered to the department as soon as collected to prevent deterioration of the sample (see table below). Other specimens are received in cell collection fluid or a preservative such as cytorich red. These preservatives assist with preservation of the cells within the sample. In the case of thyroid aspirates some slides should be fixed using the alcohol based fixative spray and some air dried. The air dried slides are for Giemsa staining.

Cytorich red and alcohol spray fixative are both available from cytology by contacting the cytology laboratory.

Cytology samples

Test TAT Sample type Biological interval/ Clinical Decision Values Special precautions/ information
Serous fluid 7 days Plain container N/A N/A
Bronchial washings
Bronchial-alveolar lavage
Bladder washings
Urethral washings
Ureteric washings
Cyst fluid
Serous fluid
Bronchial washings
Bronchial-alveolar lavage
FNA 7 days  




N/A Cytorich red or cytology green collection fluid required, available from the cytology laboratory.
Bronchial brushings
Bile brushings
FNA lymph node 7 days  

AND 2 air-dried slides



N/A Cytorich red or cytology green collection fluid required, available from the cytology laboratory.
FNA thyroid
FNA parotid
FNA breast 7 days Fixed or air-dried slides N/A

4 fixed smear slides

Alcohol spray fixative is available from the cytology laboratory

Buccal smears 7 days Fixed or air-dried slides N/A 1 fixed smear slide
Tongue smears

Broncho-alveolar lavages (BAL)

These specimens requiring a differential cell count should be received on ice and by 5pm on working days only. This is to ensure the appropriate slide preparations can be made. The cytology department can examine for Pneumocystis carinii on Broncho-alveolar lavage specimens if required however, the preferred method is for the sample to be sent to microbiology.

Endobronchial ultrasound guided aspirate specimens (EBUS)

These should be delivered to the department as soon as possible so that preparation of the samples can be undertaken. It is appreciated that reports are wanted on these specimens in a timely fashion for MDT discussion.

Joint fluids

Joint fluids should be sent to Cytology. For any cases where microbiology testing is also required, two separate samples should be collected and two requests made; one for cytology testing and the other for microbiology testing. Failure to request separate testing will result in a delay in cytology testing as the sample will first be sent to microbiology based at Oxford Road Campus, before being returned to the Cytology department at Wythenshawe Hospital for testing. This may lead to an erroneous result due to the delay in testing and potential degradation of the specimen.

Cervical cytology

Cervical cytology is sent to Oxford Road Campus for reporting. The contact details are:

Jacquelyn Medlock
Cytology Manager

Adanna Ehirim
Lead BMS Cytopathology

Manchester Cytology Centre
Clinical Science Building 2
Manchester Royal Infirmary
Oxford Road
M13 9WL

Tel: 0161 276 5119
Fax: 0161 276 5113


(Last reviewed June 2021)