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Obstet Gynecol. 1992 Aug;80(2):241-5.

A randomized clinical trial comparing the Cytobrush and cotton swab for Papanicolaou smears.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles.



We sought to determine whether use of the Cytobrush/spatula or the cotton swab/spatula is better in obtaining satisfactory Papanicolaou smears as defined by the Bethesda System.


This 1-year randomized trial was performed at the Los Angeles County + University of Southern California Women's Hospital colposcopy clinic. Participants were all nonpregnant patients referred to the colposcopy clinic for abnormal Papanicolaou smears. The main outcome measurement was the effectiveness in obtaining satisfactory Papanicolaou smears as defined by the Bethesda System. Data were analyzed using the Pearson chi 2 test.


The sampling methods had similar abilities to obtain a satisfactory smear (Cytobrush/spatula 63%, cotton swab/spatula 57%; P = .23). Less-than-optimal smears accounted for 28% of the Cytobrush group and 38% of the cotton-swab group. The Cytobrush was superior in its ability to obtain endocervical cells (Cytobrush 80%, cotton swab 60%; P less than .01). Both sampling methods had similar rates of correlation with histologic diagnosis. No complications were associated with either technique.


The Cytobrush/spatula is superior to the cotton swab/spatula in obtaining endocervical cells. There appears to be no difference in each method's ability to obtain satisfactory smears. Application of the Bethesda System results in a significant number of less-than-optimal smears using either technique.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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