Histology & Cytology Sample Collection Guide
Formalin fumes are rapidly penetrating. They alter the staining and morphology of haematology and cytology specimens. Keep open formalin containers away from these specimens even if opened momentarily.

Cytological samples can be collected by imprinting, swabbing, scraping, or performing a fine-needle aspiration of the lesion.

Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA)
Fluid specimens from cutaneous or subcutaneous masses should be placed immediately in EDTA tubes to prevent clot formation. If the fluid sample is in transit longer than 24 hours, please prepare a direct slide to accompany the tube.

Touch Imprints
Touch imprints can be helpful adjuncts to the histological examination of formalin-fixed tissues. Formalin vapors can alter the staining characteristics of touch imprints drastically. If touch imprints accompany formalin-fixed tissues, please put them in a separate air-tight container.

Direct smears for the cytological examination should be air-dried and not fixed or cover slipped.


Label the slides with name, clinic identifier, and site/source.

Place a small drop of fluid on the slide.

Using a slide spreader, touch the fluid and allow the fluid to spread.

Push the slide forward to achieve a feathery edge. Air dry. Care must be taken not to place excessive pressure on the slide, causing the cells to rupture.

Place air-dried slides in provided slide boxes, and label the outside of the box with name, clinic identifier and clinic name.