Cytology Centrifuge: What are the Different Functions?

Centrifuges come in various builds and forms and they are designed to carry out specialised functions. One of the types of centrifuges available is the cytology centrifuge. A cytology centrifuge is used to concentrate cells in fluid specimens. The specimen is placed onto a microscope slide so they can be examined.  

Unlike other kinds of centrifuges, a cytology centrifuge is more compact and smaller. They are used in various areas of clinical laboratories.

Preparation Procedure

There’s a specific procedure when using a cytology centrifuge. First you have to attach a funnel assembly to the front of the microscope slide. The funnel assembly surface that is attached to the slide is lined with filter paper. This is done so the excess liquid of the smear can be absorbed.

After placing a few drops of fluid into the funnel, the assembly is placed into the centrifuge before it is run at a low force of 600-800 x g. This setup will allow the cell structure of the specimen to be preserved once the centrifuge is operated.

How Centrifugal Force is Used

Centrifugal force will push the fluid in the assembly so it goes to the funnel’s opening and concentrates the cells in one area of the slide. The cells will be concentrated by around 20-fold. From there, a one-cell-thick monolayer is created. This makes it eligible for cellular morphology assessment.

Uses of Cytology Centrifuge

Cytology centrifuges are used in different diagnostic procedures including:

  • Assessment of differential cell counts in body fluids (this includes synovia, cerebrospinal, and serous fluids)
  • Examination of liquid specimens such as body fluids and fine needle aspirates in cytopathology
  • Gram staining of fluid specimens (done to determine the presence of microorganisms

Since cells will be placed in the centre of the fluid smear on the slide, they can appear compressed compared to those that can be found at the periphery. This is the result of the centrifugation process.

During the process, cell nuclei can also develop holes, lobes or clefts. Specimens with high cell counts are diluted before the sample is prepared to minimise those effects mentioned.