In the Cytopathology Department of the Institute of Pathology and Molecular Pathology at the University Hospital Zurich, patient samples are examined at the cellular level. It plays an important role in the modern diagnosis of various diseases. Cytological material offers minimally invasive diagnostic material which, in combination with modern additional methods, can potentially provide valuable information about the pathological tissue changes.


University Hospital Zurich
Department of Pathology and Molecular Pathology
Histology laboratory, PATH F 1
Schmelzbergstrasse 12
8091 Zurich

Monday to Friday 07.00 – 17.30; Saturday 08.00 – 12.00 (closed on public holidays)

Opening hours Cytopathology Laboratory, PATH E 3

Monday to Friday 08.00 – 17.00 (closed on public holidays)

External collection service

A courier collection service is available for external clients from the Canton of Zurich (medical practices, private laboratories, hospitals, etc.) who wish to regularly send samples to the laboratories affiliated with the UZL. Inquiries regarding the courier service provided by the UZL should be addressed to the secretariat of the UZL office.

Puncture (FNP) - Outpatient clinic

Fine needle aspiration (FNP) is a diagnostic procedure that can often clarify the nature of an unclear swelling, lump or organ enlargement quickly and easily. Fine needle aspiration can be performed by doctors from various disciplines.

Fine needle aspiration in the cytopathology outpatient puncture center USZ

The cytopathologists at our institute carry out FNPs of superficial lesions in the department’s own fine needle aspiration ambulatory, which also guarantees the high quality of the sample. The procedure is comparable to injecting a syringe when taking a blood sample. A very thin needle (usually 0.55 mm in diameter) is used to extract cells from the pathological change, which are then examined under a microscope for any changes.

In our outpatient clinic, FNPs are carried out primarily for changes in the following organs:

  • Thyroid gland
  • Salivary gland
  • Lymph nodes
  • Soft tissue and skin
  • Breast and breast cysts
Cytopathology General/FNP Site plan outpatient clinic

External fine needle aspiration

The processing and assessment is exactly the same for FNP samples that are carried out by doctors from other clinics – USZ internal or external – (e.g. radiology, ear, nose and throat clinic, gastroenterology, pneumology, dermatology, gynecology, oncology, etc.) and sent to us.

The so-called “rapid on-site evaluation” (rapid assessment of samples on site) is offered by the cytopathology department for internal USZ clinics, in particular for gastroenterology and partly also for pneumology. As patients are placed under short anesthesia during gastroscopy or lung endoscopy, it is particularly important that FNP samples (e.g. of pancreatic changes or lung changes) obtained through the stomach, duodenum, esophagus, trachea or bronchi are really meaningful. This can be guaranteed by directly assessing the sample on site.

Cancer screening PAP smear

The assessment of cell changes in PAP smears in combination with HPV testing is essential for the prevention and detection of precancerous stages of cervical cancer.

The PAP smear is taken from the surface of the cervix by the gynecologist during the gynecological examination and sent to our cytology institute for diagnosis. The cytopathologists prepare a report on the possible detection of precancerous cells. Depending on the result, HPV typing can be carried out. Depending on the findings, the gynecologist will arrange further treatment or check-ups based on the cytological analysis of the pap smear, any HPV detection and taking into account the patient’s medical history.

Up to 80% of dysplasias disappear on their own and only in a few cases do they need to be treated. The mild form of dysplasia (LSIL, CIN 1) regresses by itself in the majority of cases within 6 – 8 months without further measures. The severe form of dysplasia (HSIL, CIN 2 or 3) can also heal spontaneously, but requires more time (1 – 2 years) and – as it can develop into cancer – must be regularly checked or treated. The disappearance of an HPV infection is often the first sign that a dysplasia is in the spontaneous healing phase. In women over the age of 30, the proportion of dysplasia that heals spontaneously decreases, so that regular check-ups become increasingly important with increasing age.

HPV typing

HPV diagnostics is an established molecular detection method for cytological samples. Depending on the test procedure, an infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) can be differentiated as high-risk or low-risk.

Using a modern procedure, we can not only quickly and reliably detect 28 relevant HPV types, but also identify them individually (19 high-risk and 9 low-risk). This can be taken into account, for example, when assessing mixed infections and the question of a persistent infection. Thanks to our direct connection to the molecular pathology laboratory at the University Hospital, it is also possible to detect numerous other rare HPV subtypes.

HPV diagnostics is possible with thin-layer cytology samples directly from the existing sample container, so that the patient does not have to repeat the collection for HPV diagnostics.

Non-gynecological cytology

  • Exfoliative samples: pleural effusion, ascites, pericardial effusion, secretions, cerebrospinal fluid, joint effusions
  • Irrigation fluids: Urinary tract, ureteral and renal pelvis, Douglas, abdomen, bronchus and bronchoalveolar lavage
  • Brush smears and secretions: endoanal, bile ducts, bronchus
  • Puncture material: see fine needle puncture

Molecular diagnostics

Cytological sample material is generally very well suited for the most modern molecular pathological examinations. Thanks to our close collaboration with the molecular pathology department at the University Hospital, we can directly implement the latest scientific developments and offer innovative, new diagnostic methods: For example, unclear salivary gland lesions or soft tissue tumors can be further classified using so-called NGS examinations.

In addition, extended pathogen diagnostics (e.g. in the case of unclear lymphadenopathy) or immunohistochemical characterization of unclear focal findings or questionable metastases can be carried out directly on cytological samples.

A prerequisite for this diagnosis is appropriately preserved sample material – we therefore recommend a puncture in our outpatient clinic for specific questions about superficial lesions or focal findings in order to enable technically optimal, direct processing.

Outpatient clinic for fine needle aspiration

University Hospital Zurich
Cytology, PATH E 5
Raemistrasse 100
8091 Zurich

Tel. +41 44 255 39 41

Monday to Friday 08.30 – 15.30 (closed on public holidays)

Site plan

Information on findings

Please register the written transmission of findings by e-mail.

Tel. +41 44 255 25 11

Monday to Friday 08.00 – 12.00 and 13.00 – 17.00 (closed on public holidays)

Related diseases