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Culture and wet smear microscopy in the diagnosis of low-symptomatic vulvovaginal candidosis

European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0028-2243(94)01981-c
  • Gynecology And Oncology
  • Design
  • Medicine


Abstract To compare the clinical usefulness of culture and wet smear microscopy in low-symptomatic vulvovaginal candidosis (VVC) diagnosis. Study design: Women attending for contraceptive advice were screened for vaginal yeast fungi by culture and wet smear microscopy. A positive culture was found in 130 (13.2%) of the 983 women studied, while a positive wet smear was found in 133 (13.9%). In (30%) of these women both the culture and wet smear was positive. Results: The methods were equally sensitive in predicting symptoms of VVC, such as prutitus, smarting and burning pain, as well as for dyspareunia (35% vs. 36%), but wet smear microscopy was more sensitive in predicting signs of VVC, such as erythema and abnormal discharge (52% vs. 34%). The highest sensitivity was reached when both methods were positive (60% for symptoms, 75% for signs). There was no quantative correlation between number of Candida colonies on culture on the one hand and symptoms, signs or a positive wet smear on the other hand. Using four parameters as a diagnostic battery for VVC, the two methods complemented each other. The correlation between symptoms and/or signs for wet smear was higher than for culture. Conclusion: Wet smear microscopy of vaginal secretion, along with signs found at examination, should be the first-line test in the diagnosis of VVC. Culture must, however, be used when there is a clinical suspicion of VVC and a negative wet smear, or when speciation or antibiotic susceptibility test of isolates are required.

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