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Difference Between Cytology and Histology

There’s no doubt that cells are the smallest unit of living matter and there are like trillions of them inside the human body. Now you put cells together and you get tissues. There are four basic tissues in the body. You take the tissues and put them together, you get an organ. There is this hierarchical organization of living matter inside the body. That is histology – the study of tissues and their structure. Now cytology is the study of cells and their structure for making a diagnosis. While sound similar, both are different branches of pathology. We take a look at the key differences between the two.

Cytology

The world of cytology is quite fascinating – from its early origins to the present day where its contribution to the diagnosis and management of disease is highly regarded. Cytology means study of cells. It is the branch of science that studies cells from bodily tissues or fluid specimens, mainly to diagnose or screen for cancer. Also known as cytopathology, cytology examines how cells work in different areas of the body. It basically deals with the structure, function, and pathology of cells. It evaluates individual cells or cluster of cells to make diagnosis of certain diseases, including some forms of cancer. The examinations are performed mostly on body fluids such as blood, urine or cerebral spinal fluid. It can be used as a screening tool in healthy population who are possibly at risk of contracting a specific disease.

Histology

Histology is the study of tissues and cells under a microscope. It is a branch of science that deals with the composition and structure of animal and plant tissues with respect to their specialized functions. Knowledge of cell structure is important for understanding of the functioning of living tissues. Such knowledge is gained by thoroughly examining living cells or dead cells that have been fixed, or preserved. Histology is the study of microscopic anatomy of biological tissues. This form of study has become increasingly important. In fact several new methods for the study of histology have been developed during the past few decades, some of which are phase contrast, interference microscopy, and so on. So simply put, histology is anatomy at the microscopic level.

Difference between Cytology and Histology

Definition

– Both are different branches of pathology. Cytology is the branch of science that studies structure, function, and pathology of cells under the microscope. It examines how cells work in different areas of the body. Histology, on the other hand, is a branch of science that deals with the composition and structure of animal and plant tissues. Simply speaking, histology is anatomy at the microscopic level.

Focus

– Cytology looks at individual cells under the microscope. It evaluates individual cells or cluster of cells to make diagnosis of certain diseases, including some forms of cancer. So, it deals directly with the structural and functional organization of cells. Histology, on the other hand, is the study of architecture of an organ or tissue at the microscopic level where the tissue is examined to see what changes are taking place in it for diagnostic or research purposes.

Methods

– Cytology involves examination of single cell type and the cells may be taken through different methods, such as fine needle aspiration (FNA), flow cytometry, cytogenetics, cell culture, and so forth. For light microscopy, three techniques can be used – frozen sections, paraffin technique, and semithin sections. The most common procedure used in histology is the preparation of tissue sections.

Cytology vs. Histology: Comparison Chart

Summary

In a nutshell, both are difference branches of pathology that deal with the study of microscopic anatomy of cells for the diagnosis and research purposes. The main difference between the two is that histology studies the macrocellular array of cells that makes up plant and animal tissues, whereas cytology examines individual cells or cluster of cells to see how cells work in different areas of the body in order to make diagnosis of certain diseases, including some forms of cancer.

How is histology different from cytology?

Histology examines the entire block of tissue whereas cytology looks at individual cells at the microscopic level. In addition, cytology is less diagnostic than histology.

Is cytology better than histology?

Histological evaluation of cells and tissues provides better sensitivity in comparison with cytological evaluation.

What is the difference between cytology histology and gross anatomy?

Gross anatomy is the anatomy of tissues and organs at the macroscopic level. The complete counterpart to gross anatomy is histology which studies the composition and structure of animal and plant tissues at the microscopic level.

What is the difference between a cytotechnologist and a histotechnologist?

Both are professionals responsible for examining cells under the microscope. Cytotechnologists typically are responsible for screening cells for abnormalities whereas a histotechnologist prepares samples of tissue for further examination.

What histology means?

Histology means study of microscopic structure of tissues and cells.

Why is it called cytology?

Cytology, also known as cytopathology, involves examination of cells from bodily tissues or fluids. It simply means study of individual cells under a microscope.

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References :


[0]Shambayati, Behdad. Cytopathology. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2018. Print

[1]Bradbury, S. Hewer's Textbook of Histology for Medical Students. Oxford, United Kingdom: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2014. Print

[2]Kühnel, Wolfgang. Color Atlas of Cytology, Histology, and Microscopic Anatomy. New York, United States: Thieme Medical Publishers, 2003. Print

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