Liquid based cytology (LBC) is a way of preparing cervical samples for examination in the laboratory. It is an advanced technology usually adopted in cervical cancer screening.
The sample is collected in a similar way to the Pap smear, using a special device (spatula) which brushes cells from the neck of the womb.
Rather than smearing the sample onto a microscope slide as happened with the Pap smear, the head of the spatula, where the cells are lodged, is broken off into a small glass vial containing preservative fluid, or rinsed directly into the preservative fluid.
The sample is sent to the laboratory where it is spun and treated to remove obscuring material, for example mucus or pus, and a representative sample of the remaining cells is taken. A thin layer of the cells is deposited onto a slide. The slide is examined in the usual way under a microscope by a cytologist.