The possible clinical usefulness of scanning electron microscopic observation of urinary cytologic specimens has been suggested for selected patient populations. To begin to determine the specificity and sensitivity of the procedure, cytologic specimens (48 catheterized urine and 49 bladder washings) from 85 patients with bladder tumor or nonmalignant urologic diseases were observed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and compared with observations by light microscopy. This study provides evidence that SEM exfoliative cytology in catheterized urine and/or bladder washings has considerable, specificity for low-grade, low-stage bladder tumors, but may not be sufficiently sensitive for use in routine urologic practice. However, this procedure may be of use in following patients with previously resected low-grade, low-stage bladder tumors for the early detection of recurrences.
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