Leukocyte esterase dipstick as a rapid screening test for vaginitis and cervicitis

J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 1996 Nov;9(4):185-9. doi: 10.1016/s1083-3188(96)70028-1.


Study objective: To assess the ability of vaginal and cervical leukocyte esterase (LE) dipstick to detect vaginitis and cervicitis.

Design: A prospective, cross-sectional study to assess the ability of the LE dipstick of vaginal secretions to detect trichomonads, candida, and bacterial vaginosis and the LE dipstick of vaginal and cervical secretions to detect gonococcal and chlamydia infection and polymorphonuclear cells (PMNs).

Setting: An inner-city shelter facility clinic.

Participants: 183 sexually active, nonmenstruating females aged 13-21 years (Mean = 17.7, SD = 1.98 years): 47% black, 40% white, and 11% Hispanic.

Outcome measures: Sensitivity (SN), specificity (SP), positive and negative predictive values (PVP, PVN), with 95% confidence intervals, of vaginal and cervical LE dipstick > or = trace in detecting vaginal and cervical infections.

Results: A positive vaginal LE had a moderately high SN and PVN but poor SP and PVP in detecting trichomonas and candida vaginitis and bacterial vaginosis. A positive vaginal and cervical LE had a high SN and PVN but poor SP and PVP in detecting gonorrhea and chlamydia infection. A positive cervical LE had a moderate SN and low SP in detecting PMNs on Gram stain.

Conclusions: The LE dipstick of vaginal and cervical secretions was only a moderately good screening test for vaginal infection but a good screening test for cervical infection.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Carboxylic Ester Hydrolases / analysis*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reagent Strips*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Uterine Cervicitis / diagnosis*
  • Uterine Cervicitis / enzymology
  • Uterine Cervicitis / microbiology
  • Vaginal Smears*
  • Vaginitis / diagnosis*
  • Vaginitis / enzymology
  • Vaginitis / microbiology


  • Reagent Strips
  • leukocyte esterase
  • Carboxylic Ester Hydrolases