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Int J Legal Med. 1994;106(6):298-301.

The value of the Lugol's iodine staining technique for the identification of vaginal epithelial cells.

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  • 1Institut für Rechtsmedizin, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany.


This paper reports on the specificity of the Lugol's iodine staining technique for the detection of vaginal epithelial cells on penile swabs. Air-dried swabs taken from the glans of the penis of 153 hospital patients and from 50 healthy volunteers, whose last sexual intercourse had taken place at least 5 days previously, were stained with Lugol's solution. Glycogenated cells were found in more than 50% of the cases studied, even in healthy volunteers without urethritis. In almost all of these cases the smear contained at least a few polygonal nucleated epithelial cells showing an unequivocal positive Lugol reaction. These cells cannot be distinguished from superficial or intermediate vaginal cells, by cytomorphology or staining. Urinary tract infections had no influence on the glycogen content of male squamous epithelial cells. On the basis of these results the Lugol's method can no longer be assumed to prove the presence of vaginal cells in penile swabs.

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