Cytopathology diagnoses are made through analysis of cellular components of tissues other than blood. Samples are fluid or tissue.

Cytopathology is a branch of pathology that utilises various diagnostic techniques to examine single cells to determine the characteristics of specific disease processes, like cancer or precancer. Examples of procedures for the retrieval of cells to be examined, comprise: cystoscopy, bronchoscopy, fine needle aspiration (FNA) and Pap smear.


A cystoscopy (bladder scope) is a surgical procedure that obtains cells lining the bladder and the tube (urethra) that expels urine from the body. Surgeons use a thin tube (cystoscope) to view the inside of the bladder and retrieve cell samples (biopsy) for examination by an experienced pathologist. This procedure is carried out to determine the cause of blood in urine, pain, incontinence and recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs).


A bronchoscopy is performed by a pulmonologist who specialises in treating lung disease. Like a cystoscopy, doctors perform a bronchoscopy using a lighted scope (bronchoscope) to guide through their patient’s mouth and nose into their lungs. A bronchoscope may be flexible or rigid depending on the condition of a patient’s lungs if there is evidence of bleeding or something lodged in the airways. The procedure aims to remove tissue or mucous from the airways to find the cause of infection or lung disease.

Pap test

A Pap smear has a history of proven effectiveness in detecting nuclear or morphological changes in cervical cellular samples. Two methods of analysing cervical cells include two liquid tests. One such test is a traditional Pap test whereby cells are inserted onto translucent slides and held in place by dyes. Through light microscopy, a pathologist can look for any significant variations within the cellular network. A new and improved automated Pap test exists, whereas cervical cells remain in a vial for examination. In comparison, an automated Pap test is proven to offer better diagnostic results than a conventional test.

Fine-needle aspiration biopsy

A fine-needle aspiration biopsy is another diagnostic procedure that a cytopathologist specialises in. Using a thin needle, doctors extract cells from beneath the skin, which a pathologist is responsible for analysing in the laboratory. Then, under a microscope, cellular samples are closely viewed using dye combinations and staining patterns. Metastasises from a needle biopsy are evident in breast cancer, prostate cancer and pulmonary cancer cases.


When was the first Pap smear performed?
Pap smears were first introduced in the 1930s and are a highly effective method of predicting cancerous and precancerous cells, which are clearly visible on glass slides. Since the method’s introduction, the fatality rate of cervical cancer has dropped by over 60 per cent.
What are the benefits of a fine-needle aspiration biopsy?
A fine-needle aspiration biopsy covers an expansive range of tissue with minimal discomfort to the patient. This procedure aims to determine whether a suspicious lesion poses a health risk.
What is a cytopathology test?
Cytopathology is a series of tests done to check for different types of cancer. For example, a cytopathologist can check for any fatal variations within the cellular network by analysing cell clusters or individual cells under a microscope.