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Relation between sampling device and detection of abnormality in cervical smears: a meta-analysis of randomised and quasi-randomised studies

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.313.7068.1285 (Published 23 November 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1285
  1. Frank Buntinx, associate professora,
  2. Marleen Brouwers, researcherb
  1. a Departments of General Practice, Universities of Louvain (Belgium) and Maastricht (Netherlands)
  2. b Department of General Practice, University of Maastricht (Netherlands)
  1. Correspondence to: Professor Frank Buntinx, Department of General Practice, Universiteit Maastricht, PO Box 616–6200 MD Maastricht, Netherlands.
  • Accepted 19 September 1996

Abstract

Objective: To assess the diagnostic yield of different sampling devices used in cervical screening.

Design: Meta-analysis of randomised and quasi-randomised studies.

Setting: All randomised and quasi-randomised studies comparing the yield of cytological or histological abnormalities when two or more different sampling devices were used.

Subjects: 85 000 patients included in 29 studies reported in 28 papers.

Main outcome measures: Pooled relative risk and 95% confidence interval of the yield of mild dysplasia or worse in smears recovered by each sampling method versus each other method with which it was compared; sensitivity or positive predictive value, or both, of cytological versus histological results in six studies from which sufficient data were available.

Results: There were no substantial differences in the yield of cytological abnormalities between the Ayre spatula, the Cytobrush, and the cotton swab used alone. There were also no substantial differences in the yield of cytological abnormalities between the extended tip spatula, the Ayre spatula combined with the Cytobrush or cotton swab, or the Cervex brush. The Ayre spatula, Cytobrush, or cotton swab used alone generally performed significantly worse than the combinations, the extended tip spatula, or the Cervex brush. There were no substantial differences in sensitivity or positive predictive value between the sampling methods.

Conclusions: These results support the use of either the extended tip spatula, a combination of any spatula plus the Cytobrush or cotton swab, or the Cervex brush for cervical screening.

Key messages

  • The Ayre spatula, Cytobrush, or cotton swab alone generally performed significantly worse than the combination of a spatula and Cytobrush or cotton swab, the extended tip spatula, or the Cervex brush

  • No substantial differences in sensitivity or positive predictive value were detected between the sampling methods

  • Results support the use of either the extended tip spatula, the combination of any spatula plus Cytobrush or cotton swab, or the Cervex brush for cervical screening

Footnotes

  • Funding None

  • Conflict of interest None.

  • Accepted 19 September 1996
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