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Breast Secretions (Nipple Discharge) for Cytology

Test Name
Breast Secretions (Nipple Discharge) for Cytology
Cytopathologic evaluation for the detection of malignant cells in nipple discharge specimens.
Test Code
Supplies for Submission
  • Glass slides
  • No. 2 pencil
  • Spray fixative
  • 95% ethanol
  • CytoLyt®
  • Specimen container
Specimen Collection
Specimen preparation method #1 – Preferred method
  1. Label slides with patient’s full name, first and last, using a pencil.
  2. Express the discharge from the nipple directly onto a properly labeled slide.
  3. Invert a second slide directly on top of the first slide containing the specimen.
  4. Gently pull the two slides apart in opposite directions and immediately spray-fix or place in a container of 95% ethanol.
  5. DO NOT prepare air dried slides. Any slides made should be immediately fixed.
  6. Prepare any additional slides by repeating steps 1-4.
Specimen preparation method #2 – Alternative method
  1. Label all specimen containers with two identifiers. Acceptable identifiers include patient’s name, date of birth, social security number, requisition number, and medical record number.
  2. Collect the nipple discharge directly into a specimen container.
  3. Add CytoLyt® to the specimen, making sure to immerse the specimen completely in CytoLyt®. (For instance, if the collected specimen adheres to the side of the container, wash or rinse the specimen with CytoLyt® for satisfactory preparation.)
  4. Tighten the container cap and gently mix the contents to ensure the discharge is fixed.
Storage Requirements
Store specimens at room temperature (15 to 30°C) until transported. DO NOT freeze.
Causes for Rejections
Turn Around Time
2-3 days
  • Specimens in incorrect fixative (such as formalin) can only be processed as cell blocks.
  • Allowing smears to dry before fixation will render them unsatisfactory for cytologic evaluation.
CPT Code