Breast Nipple Discharge


Breast Discharge, Mammary Discharge

  • Tech Only CPT 88108 (for receipt of fluid), 88305 (Cell Block)
  • Tech Pro CPT 88160.26 (for receipt of direct stained smears) or 88108 (for receipt of fluids) (2), 88305(2)
  • PowerPath Code NGNI
  • Schedule Monday - Friday
  • Turn Around Time Within 2 business days of receipt
  • Disease State Benign Conditions, Breast Cancer
  • Methodology Cell Block Cytology, Cell Concentrated Cytology



Specimen Requirements

Fresh, Formalin, or CytoLyt fixed specimen in sterile container discharged from nipple/subareolar. No minimum/maximum volume requirements. Small volume may limit interpretation.


Direct smear of expressed fluid from the nipple/subareolar, alcohol, spray fixed, or air dried at collection

Collection instructions:
1. Label the frosted end of the slide with the patient’s name, date of birth and specimen type.
2. If using liquid 95% ethyl alcohol , open the vial of fixative and have it ready on the counter.
3. Gently express only the nipple and subareolar area of any secretions lying in the collecting ducts. If no secretion appears at the nipple with gentle compression, do not manipulate further.
4. Allow a "pea-sized" drop of fluid to collect upon the nipple tip.
5. Immobilize the breast. Using the nipple, smear the material across a glass slide.
6. Immediately drop the slide into the bottle/vial of 95% ethyl alcohol or spray with cytology fixative. Time is of the essence. The smearing of the material across the slide and the dropping of the slide into the liquid fixative, or spray fixing the slide, should be accomplished in one motion.
7. Make as many smears as the amount of material allows. If using liquid 95% ethanol, put smears back to back in the bottle/vial. If using cytology spray fixative, allow the smears to dry before placing the slides in a slide container.
8. Please note that it is extremely important that both the slides and the slide containers be labeled with the patient name and date of birth.

Clinical Significance

Cellular morphology of cytologic specimens is interpreted to diagnose inflammatory, neoplastic and non-neoplastic conditions. In addition, cytologic diagnoses is used to monitor recurrent and metastatic malignant conditions.

Required Patient Info

2 patient identifiers

Storage and Transportation

When possible, store specimen at 2°C - 8°C, particularly for unfixed specimens. Specimen may be transported at 15°C - 30°C. Do not freeze.

Cause for Rejection

Improper or inadequate patient identification, frozen specimens


Primary specimen container: 7 days from processing
Slide: 10 years