Cytology is a branch of pathology that deals with making diagnoses of diseases and conditions through the examination of cellular samples from the body. 

Cytological examinations may be performed on body fluids (blood, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid) or on material that is aspirated (drawn out via suction into a syringe) from the body.

Cytology can also involve examinations of preparations that are scraped or washed (irrigated with a solution) from specific areas of the body. 

A common example of diagnostic cytology is the evaluation of cervical smears (referred to as the Papanicolaou test or Pap smear).  This is also one of the main diagnostic tools for detecting cervical cancer.

The morphology of the cells from the Pap smear is analyzed in an attempt to detect cellular changes that appear early on in the formation of cancer cells. 

In order for a cytologic evaluation to be performed, the cellular material to be examined is spread onto a glass slide and stained.

A pathologist then uses a microscope to examine the individual cells in the sample for cancerous cells, precancerous changes, or evidence of inflammation or infection.  This examination is different from Histology in that individual cells are examined, not portions of tissue.

Pap Smear and HPV testing

Pap smear testing via the ThinPrepTM Pap Test (Hologic), the only liquid-based Pap test with FDA approval/clearance for Pap, HPV, Chlamydia/Gonorrhea and Trichomonas testing all from the same vial, is the method OSF System Laboratory uses for women’s health screenings. 

Each ThinPrepTM Pap Test gets two different reviews: one review from the ThinPrepTM Imager, and a second review from one of our experienced cytotechnologists. 

If an abnormal result is detected by the cytotechnologist, the case is passed on to a pathologist for further examination and review.  

Dual review screening has been proven to increase detection ability, thereby reducing false negative rates and decreasing unsatisfactory Pap results.

HPV testing is performed on the Roche Cobas®  4800 platform, which has several advantages to help meet the needs of our patients.  The assay provides clinicians and patients with Genotype-specific high-risk HPV results, helping to guide patient care management.   This platform also allows for HPV testing to be performed in smaller batches, decreasing the TAT of the assay.  The Cobas® platform is the only FDA-approved primary cervical cancer screening assay to detect high-risk HPV.  It specifically identifies types HPV16 and HPV18, along with 12 other high-risk genotypes.

The Cobas® HPV Test is a qualitative in vitro test for the detection of Human Papillomavirus in cervical specimens collected by a clinician using an endocervical brush/spatula and placed in the ThinPrep® Pap Test PreservCyt® Solution.  The test utilizes amplification of target DNA by the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and nucleic acid hybridization for the detection of the 14 high-risk HPV genotypes.