The 'less than optimal' cytology: Importance in obstetric patients and in a routine gynecologic population

E. R. Kost, Russell Snyder, L. E. Schwartz, Gary Hankins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine whether patients with less than optimal Papanicolaou tests constitute a low-risk group for developing subsequent abnormalities and thus do not need early repeat screening. Methods: For the 10-month period October 1989 to August 1990, all screening Papanicolaou tests were classified by the 1988 Bethesda System. Tests designated as less than optimal solely on the basis of lack of an endocervical component were the subject of the study. Prenatal patients with less than optimal tests had repeat tests at the postpartum visit (delayed-repeat group), whereas gynecologic less than optimal tests were repeated within 4 weeks (early-repeat group). The frequency of cytologic abnormalities in our routine gynecologic population was compared with that for both the delayed- and early-repeat testing groups. Results: The less than optimal rate in obstetric patients was 10.2% (153 of 1492), which was significantly higher than the 5.6% rate (473 of 8411) in the routine gynecologic population (P < .0001). The rates of dysplasia or combined abnormalities (dysplasia, human papillomavirus, or atypia) in the delayed-repeat group did not differ significantly from those in the routine gynecologic population (P = .69 and P = .33, respectively). However, the rates of dysplasia or combined abnormalities were significantly lower in the early-repeat group than in the routine gynecologic population (P = .02 and P = .003, respectively). Conclusions: Less than optimal cervical cytologies occurred almost twice as often in obstetric as in gynecologic patients. Prenatal less than optimal test results were not associated with important cervical pathology, and repeat testing may safely be deferred until postpartum. In addition, early repeat testing in gynecologic patients is a low-yield procedure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-130
Number of pages4
JournalObstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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