Pap Test: Collecting Cells in Liquid

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Pap Test: Collecting Cells in Liquid

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Liquid-based methods for collecting cervical cells and preparing them for laboratory evaluation are now available.

A sample of cervical cells is collected during a Pap test, and the cells are then rinsed in a liquid vial instead of being smeared on slides. The vials are taken to the laboratory, and a thin layer of the specimen is put on slides for microscopic examination. Only a small portion of the sample is used for the slide, so the remainder of the cell sample can be used for any further testing, such as a human papillomavirus (HPV) test.

These methods can produce false-positive results just like standard Pap tests. Not all laboratories provide this testing, but liquid-based methods are becoming more widely used.

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By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kirtly Jones, MD, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised February 16, 2011

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