Clinical importance of detection of bacterial vaginosis, trichomonas vaginalis, candida albicans and actinomyces in Papanicolaou smears
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Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the role of Papanicolaou (pap) smears in the diagnosis of lower genital tract infections. Materials and Methods: A retrospective study was planned by reviewing charts of patients for trichomonas vaginalis, bacterial vaginosis, actinomyces, candida and nonspecific vaginitis. Results: Charts of 9,080 patients were reviewed and 1,733 women had a diagnosis of lower genital tract infection in the pap smear or had had a clinically treated lower genital tract infection. Only 33.5%, 30.4%, 43.3%, and 0% of patients with bacterial vaginosis, trichomonas vaginalis, candida and actinomyces, respectively on pap smear were diagnosed and treated clinically. Postmenopausal patients had a higher rate of trichomonas vaginalis infection and a lower rate of candida infection when compared to women of the reproductive age group. Patients using an intrauterine device for contraception had a statistically significantly increased rate of trichomonas vaginalis and candida infection when compared to women using other contraceptive methods or those who were not using any contraception. Conclusions: Finding trichomonas vaginalis, bacterial vaginosis and actinomyces infections in pap smears might be considered an indication for treatment without performing other diagnostic tests. Treatment of asymptomatic infections can prevent complications in selected patients. Candida can be a commensal bacteria in the vagina, therefore asymptomatic patients may not require treatment. Detection of a higher rate of trichomonas vaginalis and candida infection in IUD users shows that IUDs can increase the risk of vaginal infections and associated complications.