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Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2008 Dec;35(4):549-63; viii. doi: 10.1016/j.ogc.2008.09.003.

Overview of the cytology laboratory: specimen processing through diagnosis.

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  • 1Division of Anatomic Pathology, Department of Pathology, MSC08 4640, 1 University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001, USA. njoste@salud.unm.edu

Abstract

Screening for cervical cancer by the Papanicolaou or Pap test is a complex and multistep process. From the clinician's examination room to the cytology laboratory, the Pap test involves numerous laboratory personnel, different test types, and the possibility of computer-assisted screening and ancillary testing. The laboratory has in place well-defined procedures to ensure both error reduction and specimen quality to produce reliable Pap test results. The Bethesda System 2001 provides guidance and criteria for both specimen adequacy and diagnostic criteria. Understanding laboratory procedures in Pap testing aids in clinical understanding of tests and results and contributes to effective communication between the pathologist and those involved in patient management of women with cervical abnormalities.

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