Cervical cytology

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Author: Mikael Häggström [note 1]


Adequacy should always be stated, either as "Satisfactory" or "Unsatisfactory". For estimating the number of cells, determine the following:

  • The area of your field of view at high power (see the Evaluation chapter)
  • The total size of the relevant area on the microscope slide.
  • Look at 10 representative high power fields (HPFs) within that area, and calculate the average number of cells per high power field.
Total number of cells = Average number of cells per HPF * Total size of area
HPF area

Eventually you will be able to tell when most cases are adequate or inadequate without performing a detailed calculation.

Also state whether the endocervical/transformation zone is present or absent. Count an endocervical component as present if there are 10 or more endocervical or squamous metaplastic cells.[1]

Very common findings

Main conditions to exclude or confirm

Squamous atypia, seen mainly as cells with increased nucleus/cytoplasm ratio, nuclear hyperchromasia and irregular nuclear outline.


  1. For a full list of contributors, see article history. Creators of images are attributed at the image description pages, seen by clicking on the images. See Patholines:Authorship for details.

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  1. Cibas, Edmund S.; Ducatman, Barbara S. (2021). Cytology : diagnostic principles and clinical correlates . Philadelphia, PA. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-323-63637-7. OCLC 1138033641. 

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