Welcome to the Cytology Lab


JoshAtThinPrep-1-150dpi-BDRThe cytology laboratory at the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene (WSLH) was started in 1947 by Dr. William D. Stovall, WSLH Director and pathologist. He believed that exfoliative cytology was an important new public health test that should be made available in Wisconsin. He arranged for Norma Arvold, a staff medical technologist, to train in this specialty with Dr. George Papanicolaou (the founder of clinical cytology and the Pap smear) at Cornell University Medical School. Upon returning from New York, Arvold established the cytology unit within the pathology section of the WSLH and began to train additional personnel in this new discipline.

At the WSLH from 1956 to 1959, the National Cancer Institute funded a program to evaluate the effectiveness of cervical cancer screening using the Pap smear technique. The success of this program dramatically increased the demand for cytotechnologists, and in 1957 the WSLH School of Cytotechnology was started. Today, the award-winning program is one of the largest cytotechnology educational institutions in the nation. The WSLH Cytology Department staff also assists in training cytotechnologists as well as residents from the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics.

For more than 50 years, the WSLH Cytology Department has remained on the cutting edge of its profession. The department provides full-service cytology testing, including non-gynecological and fine needle aspiration services. In the 1990s, the laboratory was one of the original test sites for the “liquid-based Pap test.” The WSLH Cytology Department has incorporated the Pap test with the ancillary molecular HPV test both as a reflex test and a baseline test for women aged 30 and over.