Objective: To evaluate the use of the ThinPrep method to reduce rates of unsatisfactory Papanicolaou (Pap) smears in women in remote communities.
Design: Prospectively collected samples were split and screened conventionally and by ThinPrep at the Queensland Cytology Service.
Patients: Three hundred women having cervical smears taken by a Mobile Women's Health Service nurse or at the antenatal and sexual health clinics of a remote north Queensland community.
Main outcome measure: Number of Pap smears reported as unsatisfactory for evaluation and requiring a repeat smear request.
Results: 17.3% of conventionally prepared smears were technically unsatisfactory, compared with 6.3% prepared with ThinPrep. The overall rate of unsatisfactory smears was only 4.3% when both ThinPrep and conventional smears were assessed for a combined report.
Conclusion: A significant reduction in the proportion of unsatisfactory Pap smears is possible with the ThinPrep method. Targeted use of ThinPrep in communities with high rates of unsatisfactory smears may prove cost-effective.