Fine needle aspirates (FNA) for cytologic examination can be submitted several ways. FNA material from a mass should be gently expressed from the syringe onto a clean, frosted edge glass slide after which a slide should be placed over the first slide, then slid across it quickly (not pulled apart), producing a monolayer that will stain well. 

 

Fluid can be submitted in a tube, (EDTA is acceptable, if culture is not desired), but a slide should be made at the hospital before shipping, to insure intact cell morphology and minimal bacterial overgrowth in the event of delay in transit or damage by heat or cold.

 

All slides should be labeled with the name of patient, the site of collection, and the date. When sending multiple sites, labeling the slide holder without labeling the slides can result in lab error; once the slides are unpacked, the location will not be obvious on the appropriate slide.

 

Samples can be submitted air dried or, after drying, fixed in methanol.  Fixation prior to shipping, especially if formalinized biopsies are shipped in the same box, will preserve the integrity of the cells and eliminate formalin damage that causes stain failure.

 

It is always a good idea to stain a slide to confirm that the sample is adequate.