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Cytology Brushings

Cellular Pathology Respiratory Cytology


Cytology brushings are performed primarily for the diagnosis and classification of benign and malignant tumours, but it can also be used to identify infection. The main brushing types received are taken from the bronchus, oesophagus and biliary duct.

Brushing sampling allows clinicians to sample areas that are prone to bleeding if biopsied. Brushings can be taken from the surface of a tumour visualised with a scope.

SPECIMEN preparation – IN CLINIC

Liquid based Cytology (LBC)

  1. Wash the brush in the PreservCyt solution immediately to ensure rapid fixation.
  2. Cut the head off the brush and leave in the vial.

NB: Green labelled PreservCyt solution vials can be obtained from Pathology stores (01392 402906) 


All brushings should be sent to the laboratory in an LBC vial. 

The request should state:

  • Three patient identifiers
  • Specimen type i.e. ‘bronchial brushings,’ ‘bile duct brushings’ etc
  • Date and time of sample collection
  • Requesting clinician
  • Patient location – inpatient/outpatient and ward
  • All relevant clinical information – including if there is a history of relevant foreign travel

Specimen Delivery and Labelling

All Trust specimens must be requested on Epic and labelled with an Epic label.

Send a separate specimen and request form to Microbiology if a microbiological investigation is required.

URGENT SPECIMENS: Please label urgent specimens clearly; an explanation as to why the specimen is urgent is helpful. On receipt, laboratory staff will notify the pathologist who will report the specimen as soon as possible.

HIGH RISK SPECIMENS: Requests must indicate if a specimen is high risk. Please indicate details of the risk, eg: TB, blood-borne virus, etc.

Turnaround Time

The Laboratory aims to comply with The Royal College of Pathologists Key Performance Indicator (KPI 6.4) for Cellular Pathology reporting turnaround times with 90% of all cases reported within 10 calendar days.

Specimen Labelling Procedure
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