Accuracy of cervical/vaginal cytology in the diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis

Sex Transm Dis. 1998 Jan;25(1):24-7. doi: 10.1097/00007435-199801000-00006.


Background and objectives: The cytological pattern of bacterial vaginosis (BV) in the Papanicolaou smear has a controversial history (coccoid vs. Gardnerella type) that has not allowed an efficient use of cervical/vaginal cytology in the diagnosis of this condition. Our study is an attempt to clarify this topic.

Goals: To evaluate the accuracy of cervical/vaginal cytology in the diagnosis of BV.

Study design: 1,896 separate examinations were performed on 1,471 women attending our sexually transmitted diseases center between 1990 and 1993. Amsel's composite clinical criteria were used as a gold standard. The Pap smear was prepared on two slides with the addition of a vaginal specimen.

Results: In the 166 cases of BV, sensitivity is 88.7%, and specificity is 98.8%. Positive predictive value is 89.8, and negative predictive value is 98.7. Kendall's correlation coefficient is 0.88 (p < 0.001).

Conclusions: Our findings support the validity of the vaginal Pap smear in diagnosing BV and suggest the screening of such a disease.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Papanicolaou Test*
  • Vaginal Smears*
  • Vaginosis, Bacterial / diagnosis*