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Cytology (Non-Gynaecological)

TDL’s Cytology team carries out microscopical examination of cells or crystals on a range of non-gynaecological body fluids, including urine, sputum and CSF.


To prevent cell degeneration, it is advisable to collect urine samples in a sample pot containing preservative (available from TDL Supplies). Use of preservative will ensure that the cellular material is preserved for up to 48 hours.

Ideally, 10ml (excluding preservative) from a freshly fully voided urine (when the bladder is emptied) mid-morning sample should be submitted for cytological assessment. If microbiology or chemistry investigations are also required, please submit separate urine samples and mark the vials accordingly.

A mid-stream urine sample is NOT recommended for cytological assessment, as it could lead to a low cellular yield. If a delay of greater than 24 hours in reaching the laboratory is anticipated, samples should be refrigerated at 4°C.


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 likely to be a delay. Please note that this is only acceptable if sputum is 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.


All available material should be submitted in a sterile container without fixative as quickly as possible. If any delay is anticipated, the material should be submitted in cytolyt fixative.

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)

Ideally, CSF should be submitted fresh or as an air dried 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.

Please contact TDL Cytology for advice if required on 020 7307 7323 / 7373.

Lead consultants

Dr Mary Falzon

Dr Geraldine Soosay