Cytopathology: Skin Scraping

CPT Code(s):


Specimen Requirements:

A direct smear of material collected from the epidermal surface is required. Two clean glass slides (single-end frosted), fixative (95% ethanol) and a request form are required for this procedure. Collect only 1 – 2 drops of specimen fluid or scrapings on the center of one of the labeled slides. Place the clean labeled slide face down on the slide with the specimen on it and let the specimen slowly spread out between the two slides. Working quickly, separate the two slides like opening a book, which will result in a mirror-image specimen. Do not press the two slides together. Immediately fix the slides in 95% ETOH.

If only one air-dried slide is received, it will be stained with GMS for fungi and acanthamoeba.

Storage/Transport Temperature: Submit specimens according to Biological Substance, Category B, shipping guidelines.

Unacceptable Conditions: Frozen; formalin

Stability (collection to initiation of testing):

  • Fixed Slides: Indefinitely
  • Ambient: 2 hours
  • ThinPrep®: 3 weeks
  • SurePath®: 4 weeks
  • Refrigerated (Sterile Container): 24 hours


This test is used as a substitute for Tzanck smear to detect and characterize inflammatory/infectious processes of the skin, especially herpetic infections.




1 – 3 days