CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 · Avicenna J Med 2011; 01(01): 18-28
DOI: 10.4103/2231-0770.83719

Basics of cytology

Mousa A Al-Abbadi
Department of Pathology and Cytopathology, King Fahad Specialist Hospital, Dammam, Saudi Arabia
› Author Affiliations


This overview is intended to give a general outline about the basics of Cytopathology. This is a field that is gaining tremendous momentum all over the world due to its speed, accuracy and cost effectiveness. This review will include a brief description about the history of cytology from its inception followed by recent developments. Discussion about the different types of specimens, whether exfoliative or aspiration will be presented with explanation of its rule as a screening and diagnostic test. A brief description of the indications, utilization, sensitivity, specificity, cost effectiveness, speed and accuracy will be carried out. The role that cytopathology plays in early detection of cancer will be emphasized. The ability to provide all types of ancillary studies necessary to make specific diagnosis that will dictate treatment protocols will be demonstrated. A brief description of the general rules of cytomorphology differentiating benign from malignant will be presented. Emphasis on communication between clinicians and pathologist will be underscored. The limitations and potential problems in the form of false positive and false negative will be briefly discussed. Few representative examples will be shown. A brief description of the different techniques in performing fine needle aspirations will be presented. General recommendation for the safest methods and hints to enhance the sensitivity of different sample procurement will be given. It is hoped that this review will benefit all practicing clinicians that may face certain diagnostic challenges requiring the use of cytological material.

Publication History

Article published online:
09 August 2021

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