Objective: To determine whether the current clinical criteria for diagnosing bacterial vaginosis can be simplified by using 2 clinical criteria rather than the standard 3 of 4 criteria (Amsel's criteria).
Methods: This was a prospective observational study of 269 women undergoing a vaginal examination in the Women's Primary Care Center, Division of Research, or Colposcopy Clinic at Women & Infants Hospital. All 4 clinical criteria for diagnosing bacterial vaginosis were collected, and Gram stain was used as the gold standard. Sensitivity and specificity were calculated for each individual criterion, combinations of criteria, and a colorimetric pH and amine card. Receiver operating characteristic curve was generated to estimate the preferred pH and percentage of clue cells for diagnosing bacterial vaginosis.
Results: The prevalence of bacterial vaginosis in our study population was 38.7%. Vaginal pH was the most sensitive of all the criteria, at 89%, and a positive amine odor was the individual criteria with the highest specificity, at 93%. Similar specificity was seen with combinations of 2 criteria and Amsel's criteria. Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis yielded a preferred pH and percentage of clue cells of 5.0 and 20%, respectively. However, a pH of 4.5 or greater improves sensitivity with minimal loss of specificity.
Conclusion: The clinical criteria for diagnosing bacterial vaginosis can be simplified to 2 clinical criteria without loss of sensitivity and specificity.