Objective: Our purpose was to examine the importance of fungal cultures in evaluating patients with symptoms of chronic vaginitis by assessing the relative contribution of various yeast species and by comparing infections caused by Candida albicans with those caused by other species.
Study design: A prospective observational study of patients referred with chronic vaginal symptoms was undertaken. In addition to a standard evaluation of symptoms, cultures for yeast were performed on modified Sabouraud agar plates.
Results: Seventy-seven isolates were obtained from 74 patients. A total of 68% were Candida albicans; 32% were other species. The clinical syndromes caused by non-Candida albicans isolates were indistinguishable from Candida albicans infections. Fluconazole gave a short-term mycologic cure in all Candida albicans but only 25% of non-Candida albicans cases (p < 0.001). In non-Candida albicans infections, boric acid suppositories achieved the best mycologic cure rate (85%).
Conclusion: Because non-Candida albicans species are responsible for a significant number of chronic fungal vaginal infections and are more resistant to therapy with fluconazole, fungal cultures are a valuable aid in confirming the diagnosis and selecting appropriate therapy.