Is liquid-based pap testing affected by water-based lubricant?

Obstet Gynecol. 2006 Jan;107(1):66-70. doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000192512.03576.da.


Objective: To estimate the effect of water-based lubricant on the liquid-based Pap test.

Methods: Two hundred women each had 2 simultaneous Pap test collections. One specimen was randomly contaminated with 0.5 mL of water-based lubricant after collection. The physician was blinded as to which collection was contaminated. Both specimens were sent for cytology. Cytopathologists were blinded to the study. The rate of abnormal cytology and discordance between the control and the contaminated specimens was estimated. The discordance of secondary diagnoses, such as yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis, was also estimated.

Results: The incidence of abnormal cytology was similar in the contaminated specimens and the control specimens (6.5%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.5-10.9% versus 7.0%, 95% CI 3.9-11.5%). The rate of disagreement between the 2 specimens collected from each patient was 7.5% (95% CI 4.6-12.1%) and is similar to previously published estimates of discordance using conventional cytology. Secondary diagnoses, such as yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis, were similar in both groups, suggesting no interference from the lubricant.

Conclusion: Water-based lubricant does not affect liquid-based cervical cytology Pap testing. Water-based lubricant does not affect secondary diagnoses such as bacterial vaginosis or yeast infections.

Level of evidence: II-1.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Cytodiagnosis / methods*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lubrication
  • Middle Aged
  • Reference Values
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Tissue Culture Techniques
  • Uterine Cervical Dysplasia / pathology
  • Uterine Cervical Dysplasia / prevention & control
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Vaginal Smears / methods*
  • Vaginosis, Bacterial / diagnosis*