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Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2004 Jan;128(1):17-22.

Comparison of performance of conventional and ThinPrep gynecologic preparations in the College of American Pathologists Gynecologic Cytology Program.

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  • 1College of American Pathologists Gynecologic Cytology Program, Northfield, Ill., USA.



Results of clinical trials suggest that interpretation of liquid-based cytology preparations is more accurate and is associated with less screening error than interpretation of conventional preparations.


In this study, the performance of participants in interpreting ThinPrep (TP) preparations was compared with participants' performance on conventional Papanicolaou tests in the College of American Pathologists Interlaboratory Comparison Program in Cervicovaginal Cytology (PAP).


The results of the PAP from the year 2002 were reviewed, and the discordancies to series and exact-match error rates for the 2 cytologic methods were compared.


For this study, a total of 89 815 interpretations from conventional smears and 20 886 interpretations from TP samples were analyzed. Overall, interpretations of TP preparations had both significantly fewer false-positive (1.6%) and false-negative (1.3%) rates than those of conventional smears (P =.001 and P =.02, respectively) for validated or validated-equivalent slides, as assessed by concordance with the correct diagnostic series. In this assessment of concordance to series, interpretations of educational TP and conventional preparations were similar, except for high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion, in which the performance was significantly worse for educational TP preparations (false-negative rate of 8.1% vs 4.1% for conventional smears, P <.001). When interpretations were matched to the exact diagnosis, validated-equivalent TP preparations were generally more accurate for diagnoses in the 100 series and 200 series than were conventional smears. Notably, for the reference diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma, the exact-match error rate on validated equivalent TP slides was significantly greater than that of conventional slides (44.5% vs 23.1%, P <.001). Interpretations of educational TP preparations also had a significantly higher error rate in matching to the exact reference diagnosis for squamous cell carcinoma (33.7% vs 22.8%, P =.007).


Overall, TP preparations in this program were associated with significantly lower error rates than conventional smears for both validated and educational cases. However, unlike the negative for intraepithelial lesion and malignancy, not otherwise specified, low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion, and adenocarcinoma cytodiagnostic challenges, participants' responses indicated some difficulty in recognizing high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion and squamous cell carcinoma.

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