What is cytology?
Cytology is the exam of a single cell. These cells are often found in fluid samples. Cytology is used to do the following:
Diagnose or screen for cancer or diseases
Screen for fetal abnormalities
Screen for Pap tests
Diagnose infectious organisms
Work with other screening and diagnostic areas
The cells to be examined may be taken by these methods:
Scraping or brushing the tissue surface, such as during a Pap test
Collecting body fluids, such as for urine or respiratory mucus (phlegm)
Removing cells by drawing them through a fine needle (fine-needle aspiration), such as abdominal fluid in ascites, pleural fluid from the lungs, cells from a thyroid nodule, or cerebrospinal fluid from the spinal canal
Doing other types of tissue biopsy
Cytology is different from histology. Cytology generally means looking at a single cell type. Histology is looking at an entire block of tissue.