Results of skin and ear cytology samples are often used to initiate and monitor therapy. A semiquantitative scale for recording results (see Cytology Scale) and testing the reproducibility of reading and scoring cutaneous cytology was developed. Sixty examiners (29 very experienced, 31 less experienced) were asked to examine glass slides (n = 10) and photographs (n = 18) of cutaneous cytology and score the specimen using a scale (see Cytology Scale). Experienced examiners received no instructions or coaching; less experienced participants were advised to scan the slides at low power first. Participants were asked to repeat the evaluation and scoring 5 hours later. The intraobserver reproduc-ibility was 84.3% (experienced group) and 82.6% (less experienced group). Interobserver reproducibility for both experienced and less experienced groups was nearly identical for slides (81.6% and 80%, respectively) and photographs (91.0% and 90%, respectively).

Cytology Scale
0 = No bacteria/yeast/inflammatory cells present
1+ = Occasional bacteria/yeast/inflammatory cells present, but slide must be scanned carefully for detection
2+ = Bacteria/yeast/inflammatory cells present in low numbers but easily detectable
3+ = Bacteria/yeast/inflammatory cells present in larger numbers and quickly and easily detectable
4+ = Massive amounts of bacteria/yeast/inflammatory cells present and quickly and easily detectable

Commentary
This study showed that practices can develop a standardized reporting system for skin and ear findings to be read by veterinarians or veterinary technicians by developing a scale (or using the one mentioned) and having a short training session using glass slides or photographs. Permanent mounts of glass slides representative of the scale for training and reference could be beneficial. This would be useful for any field that relies heavily on cytological skills.—Karen A. Moriello, DVM, DACVD

Source
Reproducibility of a semiquantitative method to assess cutaneous cytology. Budach SC, Mueller RS. VET DERMATOL 23:426-e80, 2012.