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Cytospinning through the decades: the spinning ‘60s to the COVID era

Laboratories across the world use cytocentrifugation to present cells for microscopic analysis while maintaining their morphology. Here, Epredia gives a brief history of the Cytospin and the use of cytology samples to detect respiratory viruses.

Prior to the 1960s, scientists who wanted to examine cells in bodily fluids typically used a haemocytometer, a chamber designed for counting cells microscopically. This technique had a number of limitations including poor discrimination between cell types (mononuclear or polymorphonuclear classification only), the low number of cells present in certain body fluids, and no possibility to produce a permanent record of the specimen. A standard centrifuge could be used to concentrate the specimen, but this required a large volume of fluid and was often a laborious process due to the need for repeated centrifugation runs until an adequate concentration of cells was available for transferring to a microscope slide.

The cytocentrifuge was first described in a paper by Watson in 1966, defining it as “an apparatus for concentrating cells in suspension onto a microscope slide”.1 The principle of cytocentrifugation is relatively simple – s

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