Bethesda 2001

Author: Andreia Carreira, Carla Lopes. See authors page.
Last edited: Pathologika, January 31, 2016.
Cite this page: Carreira, A. & Lopes, C., Bethesda 2001 – Pathologika. Available at: [Accessed: date].

The Bethesda System for reporting cervico-vaginal cytology dates back to December 1988. This was the first time that a group of individuals with experience in cytopathology, histopathology and medical clinic met at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

This meeting, which became Bethesda’s first workshop, aimed to establish terminology that would give clear indications for patient management as well as to reduce interobserver variability. During the 2 days of the meeting, 3 fundamental principles have been created that have guided Bethesda’s terminology and continue to this day:

Terminology should communicate clinically relevant information from the laboratory to the patient’s health care provider;
The terminology should be uniform and reasonably reproducible between different pathologists, technicians and laboratories and also flexible enough to be adapted in a wide variety of laboratory configurations and geographic locations;
Terminology should reflect the most current understanding of cervical neoplasia.
After the first introduction of terminology in 1988, revisions were already made in 1991, 2001 and recently in 2014.

For the diagnosis to be made, according to the nomenclature of the Bethesda 2001, the interpretative report on the cytology must comply with certain parameters described below.


Negative for intraepithelial lesion or malignancy
Other (eg, endometrial cells in women aged 40 years or older)
Epithelial cell alterations