Vulvar cytology

Last updated: Wednesday, 31, March, 2004

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Moist lesions or those from the introitus may be scraped using a wooden spatula. 

Other lesions in the vulva will be dry and improved cellular preservation will result from rubbing the area with a cottonwool swab dipped in saline and then rolling the swab onto a pre-labelled glass slide. 

Alternatively careful scraping with a scalpel blade may yield diagnostic material. 

Touch preparations and brush samples may also be obtained from ulcerated lesions. 

To avoid air-drying problems, rapid fixation is important.


Papanicolaou staining and microscopy.


Benign and malignant vulval lesions. May be used in combination with colposcopy for follow-up after treatment of VIN.


Cytologic examination can demonstrate the presence of dysplasia, neoplasia, fungal and viral infections eg, Herpes simplex virus. 


Johnson J. In: Gray W and McKee GT eds. Diagnostic Cytopathology. 2nd ed. Churchill Livingstone 2003.