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Effect of the sampling sequence on the quality of Papanicolaou smear
  1. P. Rahnama,
  2. S. Faghihzadeh and
  3. S. Ziaei
  1. Shahed University and Tarbiat Modarres University, Tehran, Iran
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Dr Saeideh Ziaei, MD, Associate Professor of Obstet & Gynecol Department, Tarbiat Modarres University, PO Box 14115-111, Tehran, Iran. Email: ziaei&99{at}


The aim of the study was to determine whether the order of cell collection (ie, obtaining either endocervical first or ectocervical cells first) has an effect on the quality of the Papanicolaou smear. 1129 smears were obtained using an Ayre spatula and an endocervical brush. In 564 cases, the endocervical brush was used first, and in 565 cases, the spatula was used first. The number of smears obscured by blood, the smears without endocervical component, and the smears with poor fixation were compared between the two groups. More smears were partially obscured by blood when brush was used first (78, 13.8% compared with 48, 8.5%, P = 0.004). No endocervical component was found in seven (1.2%) smears from the brush-first group compared with five (0.9%) of the spatula-first group, which is an insignificant difference. There were no significant differences in the number of poor-fixated smears, too-thick smears, and satisfactory smears but limited by inflammation between the two methods. The quality of the Papanicolaou smear can be improved by using the Ayre spatula first followed by the endocervical brush. Fewer smears will be contaminated by blood which may result in more squamous intraepithelial lesions being detected.

  • cell collection
  • ectocervical cell
  • endocervical cell
  • Papanicolaou smear

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