Enumeration of clue cells in rehydrated air-dried vaginal wet smears for the diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis

Obstet Gynecol. 1990 Oct;76(4):727-30.


Among 235 women attending an outpatient clinic, the diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis was made using three of the following four criteria: typical discharge, pH more than 4.5, positive amine sniff test, and clue cells in a wet smear. These findings were correlated with the finding of clue cells in air-dried wet smears rehydrated more than 1 month after the visit. The rehydrated specimens had the same microscopic appearance as a nonpreserved wet smear. The demonstration of clue cells in the rehydrated smears correlated with the composite diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis with a sensitivity of 96% and specificity of 98%. In a busy multi-physician setting, the scoring of clue cells in stored and rehydrated smears can be used to obtain consistent readings for wet-smear diagnostics, thus simplifying teaching and increasing the utility of wet smears in clinical research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Gardnerella vaginalis / isolation & purification*
  • Haemophilus Infections / diagnosis
  • Haemophilus Infections / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Specimen Handling / methods
  • Vaginal Smears*
  • Vaginitis / diagnosis
  • Vaginitis / microbiology*