Use of the ThinPrep® Imaging System does not alter the frequency of interpreting Papanicolaou tests as atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance

Michael J. Thrall, Donna K. Russell, Thomas A. Bonfiglio, Rana S. Hoda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Background. Automated screening of Papanicolaou tests (Pap tests) improves the productivity of cytopathology laboratories. The ThinPrep® Imaging System (TIS) has been widely adopted primarily for this reason for use on ThinPrep® Pap tests (TPPT). However, TIS may also influence the interpretation of Pap tests, leading to changes in the frequency of various interpretive categories. The effect of the TIS on rates of TPPT interpretation as atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASC-US) is of concern because any shift in the frequency of ASC-US will alter the sensitivity and specificity of the Pap test. We have sought to determine whether automated screening of TPPT has altered ASC-US rates in our institution when compared with manual screening (MS) of TPPT. Methods. A computerized search for all ASC-US with reflex Human Papillomavirus (HPV) testing over a one-year-period (7/1/06 to 6/30/07) was conducted. Cases included both TPPT screened utilizing TIS and screened manually. HPV test results for both groups were recorded. Pertinent follow-up cervical cytology and histology results were retrieved for the period extending to 11/30/07. Automated screening was in clinical use for 10 months prior to the start of the study. Results. Automated screening was performed on 23,103 TPPT, of which 977 (4.23%) were interpreted as ASC-US. Over the same period, MS was performed on 45,789 TPPT, of which 1924 (4.20%) were interpreted as ASC-US. Reflex HPV testing was positive for high risk (HR) types in 47.4% of the TIS cases and 50.2% of MS cases. Follow-up cervical dysplasia found by colposcopy was also distributed proportionally between the two groups. Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) was found on follow-up biopsy of 20.1% of the TIS cases (5.2% CIN 2/3) and 21.2% of MS cases (5.1% CIN 2/3). None of these differences were statistically significant. Conclusion. Use of the ThinPrep® Imaging System did not appreciably change ASC-US rates or follow-up reflex HPV test results in our laboratory. This demonstrates that the benefits of automated screening may be obtained without increasing the rate of referral to colposcopy for ASC-US follow-up.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number10
StatePublished - 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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