Cytologic evaluation is the analysis under a microscope of cells collected from a part of the body. This is done to determine what the cells look like, and how they form and function.
The test is usually used to look for cancers and precancerous changes. It may also be used to look for viral infections in cells. The test differs from a biopsy in that only cells are examined, not pieces of tissue .
The Pap smear is a common cytologic evaluation that looks at cells from the cervix. Some other examples include:
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.