Identification of infectious organisms in cytopathology: A review of ancillary diagnostic techniques

Derek B. Allison, Patricia Simner, Syed Z Ali

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Cytology samples obtained from exfoliative sources and fine-needle aspiration (FNA) procedures can all be used to detect microorganisms and/or the associated cytopathologic effects (CPE) caused by an infection. There are many advantages to utilizing cytology samples as an adjunct to routine microbiology laboratory methods. For example, cytology samples can be obtained by non-invasive and minimally invasive techniques, and interpretation is affordable, accurate, and fast. Furthermore, routine cytology stains, including the Papanicolaou (Pap) and the Diff-Quik (DQ) stains, can adequately identify a number of microorganisms. Finally, material obtained by these procedures can also be used for cytologic ancillary testing, microbiology culture, and molecular studies. Currently, there are a variety of ancillary diagnostic techniques that are routinely utilized in the cytopathology laboratory. Additionally, the increasing utilization of molecular-based, diagnostic techniques on fluid specimens, as well as FFPE material, is expanding the role of cytopathology for infectious disease diagnostics. In this review, we provide an overview of the most practical ancillary techniques commonly used to identify microorganisms on cytology specimens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)643-653
Number of pages11
JournalCancer cytopathology
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018


  • ancillary techniques
  • Cytopathology
  • exfoliative cytology
  • FFPE material
  • fine-needle aspiration
  • infectious disease
  • molecular tests

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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