Health Library Explorer
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A-Z Listings Contact Us
Adult Health Library
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Topic IndexLibrary Index
Click a letter to see a list of conditions beginning with that letter.
Click 'Topic Index' to return to the index for the current topic.
Click 'Library Index' to return to the listing of all topics.


What is cytology?

Cytology is the examination of a single cell type, as often found in fluid specimens. It's mainly used to diagnose or screen for cancer. It's also used to screen for fetal abnormalities, for pap smears, to diagnose infectious organisms, and other screening and diagnostic areas.

The cells to be examined may be taken through the following methods:

  • Scraping or brushing the tissue surface

  • Body fluids

  • Fine-needle aspirations (removing cells by drawing them through a fine needle)

  • Other types of tissue biopsy 

Cytology is different from histology. Cytology generally involves looking at a single cell type. Histology is the examination of an entire block of tissue. 

Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Sather, Rita, RN
Date Last Reviewed: 10/6/2014
© 2000-2015 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
Powered by StayWell
About Us| Disclaimer