Pathology Handbook

Cervical Cytology

Request Form 

Pre-printed A5 HMR101(2009)(default) cervical cytology request forms should be produced via Open Exeter where possible for all cervical smears taken in GP surgeries and clinics. The yellow single cervical cytology request form may be used if Open Exeter is not available.


On request.

Turnaround Time

Reports are normally issued within 14 days of the sample being taken.


Cervical smears must only be taken by smear takers who are trained in liquid based cytology. Trained smear takers will be given a smear taker code, once proof of training has been recieved by the laboratory. Please use this code when requesting a smear.


N/A - brush should be rinsed into the vial and the vial must be securely fastened.


ThinPrep vial which contains a preservative (PerservCyt).



Specimens should be sent to the laboratory as soon as possible after collection to ensure that the 14 day turnaround time can be maintained.

Lab Handling

Store at room temperature.

Causes For Rejection

Unlabelled/incorrectly labelled vial. Incorrectly completed request form. Both the vial and request form should contain three patient identifiers. Samples will also be rejected if the vial has leaked into the transport bag, if the fluid level is above the frosted band, if the vial contains the brush head, if the expiry date on the vial has passed or if the sample was taken more than 6 weeks ago. Samples will also be rejected from out of programme patients (samples taken from patients under the age of 24.5 years if they are not already part of the NHS cervical screening programme and samples taken from patient who are 65 years or older and have been cancelled from recall).