Role of cytotechnologists in rapid onsite adequacy assessment of cytology materials for diagnostic workup and specimen allocation for ancillary testing using a standardized protocol

Russel Fetzer, Michelle Duey, Valerie Pena, Dana Wanzer, James Kirkpatrick, Donnie Chau, Venetia R Sarode

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Introduction: Data on the performance of cytotechnologists in assessing specimen adequacy of needle core biopsies (NCB) is scant and their role in specimen triaging for ancillary studies have not been well established. Materials and methods: We retrospectively analyzed rapid onsite evaluation (ROSE) performed exclusively by cytotechnologists on 248 NCB and fine-needle aspiration (FNA) specimens. Overall adequacy and accuracy rates were determined by comparing to final diagnosis. We also reviewed the process of specimen allocation for ancillary testing to determine whether specimens were appropriately triaged at the time of ROSE. Results: Of the 248 cases, 222 (89.5%) were touch imprint and 26 (10.5%) were FNA smears. The overall adequacy rate was 73.4% (182 of 248). Concordance for “adequate” interpretation by ROSE with unequivocal malignant or benign diagnoses on final interpretation was 95.6%. The sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of ROSE for a final “positive for malignancy” were 89.2% (95% CI 83.04% to 93.69%), 43.24% (95% CI 31.77% to 55.28%), and 73.87% (95% CI 67.57% to 55.28%), respectively. Cases with “positive for malignancy” on final diagnosis were “adequate” by ROSE in 89.1% (132 of 148) and “inadequate” in 10.8% (16 of 148), P < 0.0001. Ancillary tests were performed in 168 of 248 (67.7%); the majority were immunohistochemical stains for determining tumor subtype. Predictive biomarkers were performed successfully in 100% of metastatic breast cancers. Conclusions: Cytotechnologists performed at a high level of competency in providing ROSE and allocating specimens for ancillary testing, which were performed successfully in the majority of cases. Implementation of a standardized protocol for tissue management/prioritization is of paramount importance to maximize tissue preservation and minimize wastage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of the American Society of Cytopathology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019



  • Ancillary testing
  • Cytotechnologist
  • Rapid on-site evaluation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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