What Is Nasal Cytology?

What Is Nasal Cytology

Examining a sample of mucus or cells from your nasal passages is known as nasal cytology. Physicians can detect and track ailments like rhinitis, allergies, and infectious infections with the use of this test.

Healthcare practitioners can investigate the cells and cellular components in the nasal passages using a diagnostic procedure called nasal cytology. A sample of cells or mucus from your nasal passages must be taken for microscopic inspection.

This procedure is carried out by a medical expert, usually an otolaryngologist, to evaluate and diagnose nasal and respiratory disorders, including:
  • allergies
  • sinusitis
  • chronic rhinitis
Moreover, nasal cytology can direct the management of several respiratory and nasal disorders.

This page provides an overview of nasal cytology, covering its goals, methods, dangers, and other related topics.

Why do doctors perform a nasal cytology?

Nasal cytology is done by doctors for several reasons, such as:
  • Diagnosis: It can be used by medical professionals to evaluate and determine the underlying causes of respiratory and nasal disorders. They can distinguish between sinusitis, allergies, infectious illnesses, and chronic rhinitis with the use of nasal cytology.
  • Guiding treatment: It gives medical professionals information about the potential reasons for your respiratory or nasal ailment, which aids in the development of an efficient treatment plan for you.
  • Identifying allergies: Detecting the presence of particular immune cells (called eosinophils) linked to allergic reactions, can assist medical professionals in diagnosing allergic rhinitis.
  • Detecting infections: When determining whether you have infectious rhinitis or sinusitis, it can help identify whether your nasal passages are infected with bacteria, viruses, or fungi.
  • Assessing inflammation: Doctors can use this information to diagnose and treat illnesses like nonallergic rhinitis, as it can reveal the degree and kind of inflammation in the lining of your nasal cavity.
  • Monitoring treatment: When treating nasal disorders, doctors may utilise nasal cytology to track how your body is responding to treatment. This aids in determining whether treatments are working and whether any modifications are required.
  • Research and study: To better understand the cellular alterations linked to these illnesses, investigate therapy alternatives and investigate a variety of nose and respiratory ailments, scientists also employ nasal cytology in research settings.

What conditions can nasal cytology detect?

Several conditions can be detected by nasal cytology, including:
  • allergic rhinitis
  • chronic rhinitis
  • sinusitis
  • vasomotor (nonallergic) rhinitis
  • infections of the nose, such as bacterial, fungal, or viral rhinitis
  • Nasal polyps and rhinosinusitis are examples of inflammatory nasal disorders

How is nasal cytology done?

Nasal cytology is a simple and fast process that usually takes 20 to 30 minutes to complete, including sample collection and examination. The process entails:
  • Positioning: In most cases, you will have a comfortable seat in an examining room.
  • Sample collection: A tiny, soft brush or swab is carefully inserted into one of your nostrils by a medical practitioner, usually an otolaryngologist, to gather a sample of cells from the lining of your nasal passages. While it could tickle a little, it usually doesn't hurt and happens quickly.
  • Sample preparation: On glass slides, the nasal cells that have been harvested are put. Usually, these slides are dyed so that a microscope can see the cells.
  • Microscopic examination: Under a microscope, a pathologist or cytologist—medical specialists with expertise in sample analysis—will review these generated slides. They examine the various cell types, their numbers, and any anomalies. Diagnosis is aided by this analysis.

Are there any risks of nasal cytology?

The operation of nasal cytology is generally considered safe, with few dangers involved.

During the sample collection process, some people could feel a little uncomfortable.

Rarely, people may get bleeding from the nose. This is more likely to occur in those with delicate nasal blood vessels.

What can I expect after a nasal cytology test?

Nasal cytology is a quick-healing, minimally invasive, low-risk technique. You can get right back to your normal routines. Recuperation time or downtime are not required.

Your test results will be discussed with you by a medical practitioner, who will also provide you with information regarding the condition of your nose and any recommended remedies. When required, they might also suggest more tests.

If you are receiving nasal cytology to keep an eye on an underlying medical problem, a medical expert will stay in close contact with you to oversee and modify your treatment plan as necessary.

What other tests do doctors use to diagnose rhinitis?

To diagnose rhinitis, physicians may employ several tests in addition to nasal cytology. These could consist of:
  • Allergy testing: Certain allergens that cause allergic rhinitis can be identified with the use of allergy skin or blood tests, such as the radioallergosorbent or certain immunoglobulin E blood tests.
  • Nasal endoscopy: With a nasal endoscopy, a tiny, flexible tube equipped with a camera allows a medical professional to visually examine your nasal passages. It can assist in locating polyps, structural anomalies, or indications of persistent rhinitis.
  • Nasal provocation test: This test allows medical professionals to identify nonallergic rhinitis by putting possible irritants in the nasal passages to cause symptoms.
  • Skin prick testing: A skin prick test, which is frequently used to diagnose allergic rhinitis, is putting a tiny quantity of allergen on the skin and watching for an allergic reaction.
  • Rhinoscopy: With the use of a narrow, rigid, or flexible scope, the nasal passages are examined more closely during this in-office treatment.
Test selection is contingent upon the particular symptoms and presumed aetiology of rhino rhinitis. To precisely diagnose you and establish the best course of therapy, a doctor may combine these tests.


A crucial diagnostic and therapeutic tool for respiratory and nasal disorders is nasal cytology. This short, non-invasive approach aids medical professionals in determining the root causes of symptoms and directing their treatment strategies.

If you have respiratory or nasal issues, think about discussing the possible advantages of nasal cytology with a medical practitioner.


What is nasal smear analysis?

A nasal smear can reveal eosinophils, which is consistent with allergic rhinitis

Can nasal smear tests detect allergic rhinitis?

However, nasal smear eosinophil counts are not very good in indicating the kind, severity, or length of upper or related lower airway inflammation brought on by allergies.

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