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J Clin Microbiol. 2009 Jan;47(1):59-63. doi: 10.1128/JCM.01656-08. Epub 2008 Nov 5.

Stepwise diagnosis of Trichomonas vaginalis infection in adolescent women.

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Division of Adolescent Medicine, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, 3333 Burnet Ave., ML 4000, Cincinnati, OH 45229-3039, USA


The objective of this study was to examine the effects of clinical factors and of the type and timing of a secondary test in improving the sensitivity of Trichomonas vaginalis detection in young women over that of a wet mount alone. For this purpose, sexually active adolescent women (n = 345) were recruited from a hospital teen clinic or emergency department. Following an interview and a pelvic exam, four primary T. vaginalis tests (wet mount, culture, a rapid test, and a nucleic acid amplification test [NAAT]) were performed on vaginal swabs. If the wet-mount result was negative, two secondary tests (culture and a rapid test) were performed on the used wet-mount swab and saline. A positive result by any of the four primary tests was considered a true T. vaginalis-positive result. The prevalence of T. vaginalis was 18.8% overall and 8.8% in the 307 wet-mount-negative women. There was 100% concordance between primary and secondary rapid tests. Secondary culture was 80% sensitive compared to primary culture. The likelihood of a positive rapid test increased with increasing time between specimen collection and testing. A wet mount followed by a rapid test was the most sensitive strategy using two tests (86.4%; confidence interval [CI], 75.3 to 93.4%). Limiting secondary testing to those with multiple partners resulted in a lower sensitivity (73.9%; CI, 61.5 to 84%) that was not significantly better than that of the wet mount alone (58.5%; CI, 45.6 to 70.6%). We conclude that a rapid test can be delayed or performed on a used swab with no loss of sensitivity. Until a NAAT for T. vaginalis is commercially available, a stepwise approach using an additional rapid test for wet-mount-negative women is recommended for adolescent women regardless of clinical factors.

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