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Pap Test: Collecting Cells in Liquid

Topic Overview

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

A sample of cervical cells is collected during a Pap test. Then the cells are 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. These methods cost more than standard Pap testing.

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Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised December 12, 2012

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