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 RESEARCH ARTICLE
CytoJournal 2016,  13:10

Cervical cytology as a diagnostic tool for female genital schistosomiasis: Correlation to cervical atypia and Schistosoma polymerase chain reaction


1 Department of Biomedical and Clinical Technology, Durban University of Technology; Discipline of Public Health Medicine, School of Nursing and Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
2 Department of Parasitology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands
3 Discipline of Public Health Medicine, School of Nursing and Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
4 Institute of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo; Department of Infectious Diseases, Norwegian Centre for Imported and Tropical Diseases, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
5 Institute of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo; Department of Pathology, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
6 Discipline of Public Health Medicine, School of Nursing and Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa; Department of Infectious Diseases, Norwegian Centre for Imported and Tropical Diseases, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway

Correspondence Address:
Pavitra Pillay
Department of Biomedical and Clinical Technology, Durban University of Technology; Discipline of Public Health Medicine, School of Nursing and Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1742-6413.180784

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Background: Female genital schistosomiasis (FGS) is a tissue reaction to lodged ova of Schistosoma haematobium in the genital mucosa. Lesions can make the mucosa friable and prone to bleeding and discharge. Women with FGS may have an increased risk of HIV acquisition, and FGS may act as a cofactor in the development of cervical cancer. Objectives: To explore cytology as a method for diagnosing FGS and to discuss the diagnostic challenges in low-resource rural areas. The correlation between FGS and squamous cell atypia (SCA) is also explored and discussed. Cytology results are compared to Schistosoma polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in vaginal lavage and urine and in urine microscopy. Materials and Methods: In a clinical study, 394 women aged between 16 and 23 years from rural high schools in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, underwent structured interviews and the following laboratory tests: Cytology Papanicolaou (Pap) smears for S. haematobium ova and cervical SCA, real-time PCR for Schistosoma-specific DNA in vaginal lavage and urine samples, and urine microscopy for the presence of S. haematobium ova. Results: In Pap smears, S. haematobium ova were detected in 8/394 (2.0%). SCA was found in 107/394 (27.1%), seven of these had high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (HSIL). Schistosoma specific DNA was detected in 38/394 (9.6%) of vaginal lavages and in 91/394 (23.0%) of urines. Ova were found microscopically in 78/394 (19.7%) of urines. Conclusion: Schistosoma PCR on lavage was a better way to diagnose FGS compared to cytology. There was a significant association between S. haematobium ova in Pap smears and the other diagnostic methods. In low-resource Schistosoma-endemic areas, it is important that cytology screeners are aware of diagnostic challenges in the identification of schistosomiasis in addition to the cytological diagnosis of SCA. Importantly, in this study, three of eight urines were negative but showed Schistosoma ova in their Pap smear, and one of them was also negative for Schistosoma DNA in urine. In this study, SCA was not significantly associated with schistosomiasis. HSIL detected in this young population might need future consideration.






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