Clinical Pathology Laboratory - Cytology Protocols
Consultation with a pathologist regarding study design, species, and spectrum of disease states is essential prior to submitting cytology samples for evaluation. Please contact Kim Little or Tammy Ruska in the lab to initiate this process.
Submitted cytology samples are stained with Wright-Giemsa (Romanowsky stain) using an automated process and are evaluated via light microscopy by board-certified veterinary pathologists.
Samples submitted for fluid analysis may have cell counts performed manually via hemocytometer (CSF) or via an automated analyzer (Advia 2120 Hematology Analyzer, version 2.00.00, multi-species; Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics Inc., Deerfield, IL). Protein levels for body fluid analysis are measured via handheld refractometry. Protein levels for CSF must be analyzed via automated methods (Beckman Coulter; AU480; Beckman Coulter, Brea, CA) due to low concentrations and therefore must be ordered separately under the chemistry test section.
Cytology samples may be taken by fine needle biopsy/aspiration and gently smeared on to new, clean, plain glass slides. Impression preparations from biopsy samples or cutaneous lesions are also acceptable. Alternatively, small amounts of whole tissue may be submitted for the pathologist to prepare impression smears. Fluid samples may also be submitted for cytologic analysis, cell counts and protein levels. Common sources of fluid include peritoneal fluid and thoracic fluid.
| Option || Description of item || |
Required serum volume
(Note: not whole blood volume)
| 1 ||Cytology – includes cytologic evaluation of solid tissue specimens and cystic lesions/fluids for which cell counts are not required ||Variable- a single slide may be sufficient, however several slides (2-4) may be preferable depending on the cellularity of the preparations |
| 2 ||Body Fluid Analysis * ||2 mL in EDTA |
| 3 ||Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) Analysis*- MUST be submitted to the laboratory within 4 hours of collection, at refrigerated temperatures ||1 mL in EDTA or Red Top |
| 4 || Bone Marrow ||Current blood smear, aspirate (0.5mL in EDTA), and core biopsy in formalin |
**For measurement of CSF protein levels, you must also order total protein (see chemistry test menu). For joints, a mucin clot test will be provided in place of protein testing.
Fluid samples for cytologic analysis and/or cell counts should be submitted in EDTA tubes (purple top) and for the latter, MUST be clot-free. Non-blood-contaminated CSF may be submitted in either a plain red top tube, or EDTA sample.
Slides should be carefully packed to minimize risk of breakage and should be labeled (if possible) in pencil with a legible, simplified numbering system. Prepared slides and fluids should not be exposed to formalin fumes or packaged with biopsy samples preserved in formalin. Formalin exposure results in altered staining characteristics and cell morphology, which in turn prevents adequate sample evaluation.
Cytologic descriptions, pathologist’s interpretation, and comments are available in Word format.
Common causes of non-diagnostic samples include low cellularity samples and excessive hemodilution. Please contact the laboratory to discuss methods for minimizing these interferences.