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Repertoire, sample requirements and turnaround times


The cytology laboratory processes gynaecological samples from private patients at GP clinics and private hospitals. The vast majority of the workload is submitted as LBC (liquid based cytology) and processed using the CYTYC ThinPrep system. Supplies of sample Thinprep pots are available from TDL stores. The head of the cervical broom must NOT be left in the pot. Smear taker packs are available on request from the laboratory.

Turnaround time for cervical samples 48-72 hours. The use of lubricant interferes with LBC sampling and may result in an inadequate sample, this is not recommended. If use of lubricant is absolutely essential a small amount of KY jelly or warm water is advised.

The Doctors Laboratory uses the Cytyc Imaging system as an enhanced Quality Control. All abnormal samples are referred for final assessment and reporting by a Consultant Cytopathologist or Consultant BMS (Advanced Practitioner).

Turn around time for gynaecological specimens is 48-72 hours.


Ideally, 50mls of a freshly voided midmorning urine sample should be submitted in a sterile container. Urine may be sent fresh however if a delay in transporting the sample to the laboratory is anticipated, samples may be stored at 4 degrees. If a significant delay is likely, samples should be submitted in containers containing fixative (available from TDL Stores - Telephone: 020 7307 7311 or Fax: 020 7307 7340). Mid stream urine samples are not ideal for cytological examination.


Sputum should be collected on at least three occasions if underlying lung carcinoma is suspected. A single sputum is sufficient for microbiological assessment. Sputum should be sent to the laboratory immediately following production, or stored in a universal container containing cytolyt cell fixative if there is a likely delay. Please note that this is only acceptable if sputum only for Cytology. Microbiology cannot be performed on fixed material. Early morning sputum is ideal, but contamination with food, toothpaste and tobacco should be avoided.


1 or 2 air-dried direct spread smears and needle washings in a green non-gynaecological thinprep vial.

Pleural/Ascitic Fluids and Peritoneal Washings
Send a minimum of 30ml of body cavity fluid, mixed with an equal volume of cytolyt/preservcyt in multiple universal containers.

Bronchial and Gastric Washings
Add whole sample to green non-gynaecological thinprep vial.

Bronchial and Gastric Brushings
Snip off tip of brush into green non-gynaecological thinprep vial.


Ideally CSF should be submitted fresh or as an airdried cytospin slide, unstained and in a plastic transport slide box. A minimum of 3ml should be submitted either in fresh form or spun on multiple slides for cytopathologists' review and opinion.


  • All samples must be labeled with 3 identifiers corresponding with patient form.
  • Any sample without appropriate clinical information including site, previous history, current/post therapy will not be reported.
  • Green non-gynaecological thinprep vials can be obtained from the TDL Supplies Department.
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