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Cervical cytology

Citologia a Vall d'Hebron

Cervicovaginal cytology, also called a Pap smear test, is used to take a sample of cells from the wall of the uterus, or cervix, to be analysed to detect abnormal changes in the cells there due to the human papillomavirus (HPV), before cancer or infections develop. If the test shows the presence of HPV, the doctor may request other tests, such as a colposcopy (link to colposcopy).

Hospital o serveis complementaris relacionats

Children's Hospital and Woman's Hospital

Where to find it


What is it for?

Cervical-vaginal cytology is used to detect cervix cancer early on, as well as other precancerous abnormalities of the cervix to help us provide early treatment, which increases the chances of recovering from the disease.


How does it work?

The patient lies on a stretcher with their legs in stirrups for gynaecological examination, as the doctor performing the test inserts a speculum into the vagina. This device allows us to separate the walls of the vagina to see the cervix.

The doctor performing the test can then extract a sample of the walls of the vagina or vaginal exudate at the back of this area. A second sample is taken from the external part of the cervix, the ectocervix, and another sample from the cervix canal that connects the interior of the uterine cavity with the vagina, also called the endocervix.

Finally, these samples are sent to the laboratory, where they will be analysed with a microscope.

To do this test, no preparation is necessary beforehand, though it is recommended that the patient not be on her period, to avoid possible errors.



There are no risks, though sometimes bleeding may occur when the sample is taken, but this will not usually last more than one day.

The patient should try to remain relaxed during the test, since if the vagina contracts, the test can cause some discomfort.

Related professionals
Dr. Antonio
Gil Moreno
Head of Department
Biomedical Research in Gynaecology
Dra. Lidia
Illán Hernández