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Significance of a Diagnosis of Microorganisms on Pap Smear

Fitzhugh, Valerie A. MD; Heller, Debra S. MD

Journal of Lower Genital Tract Disease: January 2008 - Volume 12 - Issue 1 - pp 40-51
doi: 10.1097/lgt.0b013e31813e07ff
Review Article

The Pap smear has been in use for more than half a century as the primary screening test for preinvasive and invasive lesions of the uterine cervix. Although not the primary use and an imperfect test, it can be extremely useful in the diagnosis of some microorganisms. This review focuses on the use of the Pap smear in the diagnosis of several microorganisms including Actinomyces, Chlamydia trachomatis, Candida, Trichomonas vaginalis, Leptothrix vaginalis, Herpes Simplex Virus, the causative agents of bacterial vaginosis, and other rarer organisms. The accuracy of diagnosis using the smear varies among the different organisms in question.

The sensitivity and specificity of the Papanicolaou smear for the identification of microorganisms varies with the organism in question.

Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, New Jersey Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark, NJ

Reprint requests to: Debra S. Heller, MD, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, New Jersey Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, UH/E158, 185 South Orange Avenue, Newark, NJ 07101. E-mail: hellerds@umdnj.edu

©2008The American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology