Vaginal Pap smears are taken for two main reasons: 1) to screen for vaginal dysplasia in a patient who has had a hysterectomy and, 2) for assessing the maturation index (M.I.) of the vaginal mucosa (the M.I. is a qualitative measure of the patient’s hormonal mileu, and may aid in detecting hormonal deficiencies).
There are two methods for collecting specimens from the vagina: the conventional smear technique and collection of the specimen in a liquid fixative (Thin Prep method).
The Conventional Method when Screening for Dysplasia
- Use the spatula provided in the Calpath Pap smear kit. Do not use the brush.
- Scrape the vagina circumferentially with the spatula.
- Transfer the material collected on the spatula onto the glass slide, and fix promptly with the cytology fixative.
- Label the slide with the patient’s name.
Thin Prep Method when Screening for Dysplasia
- Collect the specimen in the usual way, using a plastic spatula.
- Immediately rinse the spatula in the PreservCyt Solution vial by swirling the spatula vigorously in the vial about 10 times.
- Remove the spatula and close the container securely.
- Write the patient’s name and physician’s name on the specimen container.
Collection of Specimen when Requesting a Maturation Index (M.I.)
- The M.I. test can only be performed on a vaginal smear. Do not submit a cervical smear or a combined cervical/vaginal smear for this test.
- Use the wooden spatula provided in the Calpath Pap smear kit. Do not use the brush.
- Scrape the lateral vaginal wall, and transfer the material to the glass slide.
- The M.I. cannot be performed on a cervical smear; if you wish to order a regular cervical Pap smear test as well as the M.I., then two separate slides have to be submitted – one from the cervix and one from the vagina.
- Complete the Calpath cytology requisition form per the instructions.
After collecting the specimen, please do the following:
- Place the specimen in the Calpath specimen bag.
- Place the requisition form in the side slot of the Calpath specimen bag.
- Call Calpath for a pickup or place the Calpath specimen bag in the location where our courier usually picks up your daily specimens.