The Role of Polymorphonuclear Leukocyte Counts from Urethra, Cervix, and Vaginal Wet Mount in Diagnosis of Nongonococcal Lower Genital Tract Infection

Infect Dis Obstet Gynecol. 2018 Jul 26;2018:8236575. doi: 10.1155/2018/8236575. eCollection 2018.


Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate whether the polymorphonuclear leukocyte (PMNL) inflammatory response in women with nongonococcal lower genital tract infection (LGTI) can be used to optimize criteria for syndromic treatment.

Methods: A cross-sectional study of 375 women attending the STI clinic in Oslo. Urethral, cervical, and vaginal specimens underwent microscopy for PMNLs. Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct) and other STIs were detected in the cervical/vaginal swabs and urine, using nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT). After excluding vulvovaginal candidiasis, genital herpes, and trichomoniasis, we correlated clinical and microscopic signs of inflammation with positive NAAT for Ct, mycoplasma genitalium (Mg), and Ureaplasma urealyticum (Uu) in a subgroup of 293 women.

Results: To predict a positive Ct, the combination of high cut-off urethritis (≥10 PMNLs/HPF) and microscopic cervicitis had a high specificity of 0.93, a PPV of 0.37, and a sensitivity of 0.35. LGTI criteria had low predicting values for Mg and Uu.

Conclusion: Including microscopic criteria for the diagnosis of LGTI gives better indication for presumptive antibiotic treatment than anamnestic and clinical diagnosis alone.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cervix Uteri / microbiology
  • Chlamydia Infections / diagnosis
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Mycoplasma Infections / diagnosis
  • Neutrophils / cytology*
  • Norway
  • Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques
  • Reproductive Tract Infections / diagnosis*
  • Reproductive Tract Infections / microbiology*
  • Ureaplasma Infections / diagnosis
  • Urethra / microbiology
  • Vagina / microbiology
  • Young Adult