Objective: Herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection is associated with substantial morbidity and mortality in neonates. A diagnosis of HSV on cervical cytologic studies could lead to a cesarean section, with an increase in the risk of maternal morbidity. The identification of viral lesions in sexually active women has medical and social implications. There have been reports of false positive diagnoses of HSV in patients with altered endocervical cells and with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 3. We evaluated a polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based assay to detect HSV-1 and HSV-2 in routinely collected cervical cytology specimens in ThinPrep fixative (Cytyc Corp., Marlborough, Massachussets, U.S.A.).
Study design: DNA was extracted from five cases that demonstrated cytologic changes suggestive of an HSV infection. PCR amplification with subsequent gel electrophoresis was performed to detect the presence of HSV.
Results: HSV DNA was detected in three of five cases that were cytologically diagnosed as suspicious or strongly suspicious for HSV infection.
Conclusion: The combination of the ThinPrep liquid-based method for cervical cytology with PCR allows prompt confirmation of the diagnosis of HSV without sacrificing the diagnostic morphology on the slide.