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Anal Quant Cytol Histol. 2006 Jun;28(3):171-4.

Correlation between the papanicolaou stain and the Wright-Giemsa stain in body fluids: a quality assurance study.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Ohio State University Hospitals, Columbus, Ohio, USA.



To compare the use of Papanicolaou and Wright-Giemsa stains for the evaluation of body fluids in cytology and hematology laboratories and determine whether other factors account for discrepancies in diagnosis.


We retrospectively reviewed cytopathology reports of peritoneal, pleural, and cerebrospinal fluids received by hematology and cytology laboratories for 1 year. Cases were divided into 3 categories-benign, atypical, and malignant--and slides of discrepant diagnoses were reviewed.


During this period, 198 of 3212 (0.61%) cases received by the hematology laboratory and 252 of 4402 (0.57%) cases received by the cytology laboratory were diagnosed as malignant or atypical. Of 3212 cases simultaneously received by the cytology and hematology laboratories, 17 diagnosed as malignant by hematology were diagnosed benign by cytology (sensitivity 96%). Sixteen cases diagnosed as malignant by cytology were diagnosed as benign by hematology (sensitivity 97%). No benign cases were diagnosed as malignant (specificity 100%). Review of the glass slides of the discrepant cases revealed 8 cases undercalled by hematology and 7 cases undercalled by cytology.


Papanicolaou stain is superior for carcinoma and Wright-Giemsa stain for hematopoietic disorders, but used together they may reduce false negative results. Delays in processing, staining technique, and interobserver variability contribute to discrepancy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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