Objective: To evaluate the effect of rehydration of air-dried cervical smears on staining quality and to find out whether rehydration techniques can be adopted as an alternative method, especially in high-volume, resource-limited settings.
Methods: A total of 950 paired wet-fixed and air-dried-rehydrated cervical smears collected by paramedical workers from an urban slum of Delhi, India, were compared for staining quality by assessing different cytoplasmic and nuclear parameters.
Results: The staining quality in air-dried-rehydrated smears was satisfactory and comparable to wet-fixed smears (61.3% versus 63.6%). The staining was superior in rehydrated smears in 26.5%, as compared with 15.4% in wet-fixed ones (P <.001). Unsatisfactory staining was observed in 12.2% of rehydrated smears, as compared with 21% of wet-fixed smears. The smear background was cleaner in rehydrated smears. Red blood cells were observed in only 3% of rehydrated smears, in comparison to 12% in wet-fixed ones (P <.001).
Conclusion: Rehydration of air-dried cervical smears is a suitable alternative to wet-fixed smears. The staining quality is either the same as or better than wet-fixed smears, and the unsatisfactory rate is lower. This technique is simple and can be conveniently adopted in resource-limited settings.