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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Cytologic features of nipple aspirate fluid using an automated non-invasive collection device: a prospective observational study

Kerry AS Proctor1, Leslie R Rowe2 and Joel S Bentz1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

2 Institute for Clinical and Experimental Pathology, Associated Regional and University Pathologists (ARUP) Laboratories Inc., Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

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BMC Women's Health 2005, 5:10  doi:10.1186/1472-6874-5-10

Published: 3 August 2005



Detection of cytologic atypia in nipple aspirate fluid (NAF) has been shown to be a predictor of risk for development of breast carcinoma. Manual collection of NAF for cytologic evaluation varies widely in terms of efficacy, ease of use, and patient acceptance. We investigated a new automated device for the non-invasive collection of NAF in the office setting.


A multi-center prospective observational clinical trial involving asymptomatic women designed to assess fluid production, adequacy, safety and patient acceptance of the HALO NAF Collection System (NeoMatrix, Irvine, CA). Cytologic evaluation of all NAF samples was performed using previously described classification categories.


500 healthy women were successfully enrolled. Thirty-eight percent (190/500) produced fluid and 187 were available for cytologic analysis. Cytologic classification of fluid producers showed 50% (93/187) Category 0 (insufficient cellular material), 38% (71/187) Category I (benign non-hyperplastic ductal epithelial cells), 10% (18/187) Category II (benign hyperplastic ductal epithelial cells), 3% (5/187) Category III (atypical ductal epithelial cells) and none were Category IV (unequivocal malignancy). Overall, 19% of the subjects produced NAF with adequate cellularity and 1% were found to have cytologic atypia.


The HALO system is a simple, safe, rapid, automated method for standardized collection of NAF which is acceptable to patients. Cytologic assessment of HALO-collected NAF showed the ability to detect benign and pre-neoplastic ductal epithelial cells from asymptomatic volunteers.