Specimen: Nasal discharge, aspirated material
Container: Glass slides, slide container, swab for culture
Place the nasal discharge on a glass slide. Then take another slide, gently place it on top. Applying a small amount of downward pressure to spread out the mucoid material, pull the slides along each other lengthwise until they separate. This will result in two slides with a nice monolayer of cells. If there is a nasal mass, fine needle aspiration is recommended (see “solid mass aspirates”).
Special handling/shipping requirements:
Do not ship with formalin (or wrap and bag separately) as the formalin fumes prevent cellular uptake of differential stains rendering the slides non-diagnostic.
General information about the disease: N/A
General information about when this test is indicated:
Cytology from nasal exudates often reveals septic purulent inflammation which is consistent with rhinitis but could be secondary to an underlying disease (fungal infection, foreign body, viral infection, tumour, etc.). Deep swabs from the nasal cavity, especially if any white plaques are observed, can reveal fungal hyphae (e.g., Aspergillus sp).
Comparison with other related tests:
Chronic nasal discharge/epistaxis cases can be a bit of a diagnostic challenge. A definitive diagnosis may require a combination of imaging, cytology, rhinoscopy, histopathology, and culture.