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Skin Scrape or Discharge Test

  • Synonyms: Nipple discharge, breast smear, Tzanck smear (for herpes)
  • Performing lab: Cytopathology (N018); Ext: 4-1550
  • Availability: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday
  • Turnaround time: One to two working days.
  • Specimen type: Nipple discharge smear, skin scrape 
  • Container: Cardboard cover for microslides
  • Volume: 1-2 slides 
    • Minimum volume: 1 slide

Special instructions

  • Immediately spray fix after smearing sample on slide.

Storage information

  • If delivery after hours, place in refrigerator. (N018 - available 24 hours)

Specimen transport requirements

  • Cytologic specimens should be labeled with printed barcoded labels (do not put label on tops)
  • Placed in a biohazard bag and transported with the printed requisition to the Cytology Laboratory, N018
  • Logged in and placed on the top shelf of the refrigerator
  • Slides prepared on-site must have two patient identifiers, only labeling the slide holder in not acceptable.

Causes for rejection

  • Inadequate identification
  • Improper fixation
  • Specimen type not identified

More information

  • Complete the Non-Gyn cytology order in EPIC to include pertinent history, prior diagnostic/therapeutic procedures, X-ray, clinical findings, and results of prior surgeries.
  • Outreach facilities should use the preprinted “University Outreach Pathology Requisition” and submit with the sample.


  • Indicate whether slides have been spray fixed or allowed to air dry.
  • Indicate request for additional special stains or other procedures.
  • Indicate if body fluid precautions are necessary.