Objective: To compare ThinPrep (TP) Papanicolaou smears (Cytyc Corp., Box-borough, Massachusetts, U.S.A.) with matching conventional Papanicolaou (CP) smears for specimen adequacy, cytologic quality, diagnostic accuracy and screening time.
Study design: In this prospective study of 1,024 women a split-sample, matched-pair design in favor of CP slides based on single-blind criteria was followed with a smear on a glass slide for CP and the remaining material collected in Preserv-Cyt solution (Cytyc) for a TP smear. A Cytobrush (Medscand, Hollywood, Florida, U.S.A.) was used for smear preparation for CP. TP smears were processed in ThinPrep 2000 (Cytyc). Smears were stained with Papanicolaou stain and were interpreted according to the Bethesda system.
Results: The number of satisfactory but limited (SBL) cases with TP were 77 (7.5%) as compared to 127 (12.4%) with the CP method. This reduction in SBL smears with the TP method and consequent increase in satisfactory smears were highly significant (P < .001) by McNemar's test. As regards unsatisfactory smears in discordant pairs, although the number of unsatisfactory smears was higher with TP (41 cases) as against CP (27 cases), the difference was not statistically significant (P < .05). The split-sample method showed a high correlation between the CP and TP diagnoses. TP smears had a significant advantage over CP smears in the reduction in the number of ASCUS and AGUS cases (14 vs. 29) (P < .05) and increased the pickup rate of LSIL, 6 vs. 1. Time taken to screen the TP smears was half that of CP smears. No cases of LSIL or HSIL were missed on TP smears.
Conclusion: The liquid-based processor significantly improved the adequacy and quality of smears, resulting in fewer recall cases for SBL smears, leading to more definitive diagnoses in atypical cases, increasing the pickup rate of LSILs and reducing the screening time. A machine handling multiple specimens automatically would decrease cost and be an asset to a cytopathology laboratory.