9/27/02 - Liquid Pap Smears

Although women don't look forward to them, pap smears are very good at catching several diseases in women. Now, they're getting even better and more accurate. Liquid based pap smears allow technologists to get one hundred percent of a sample, and are clearer to read than traditional pap smears.
Around 20,000 pap tests come through Southeast Hospital's lab every year, close to 60 percent of them were done using liquid pap smears. The big difference, a machine separates blood and other things doctors don't want to look at from the cells they do want to see, making it much easier for them to read and catch potential problems. Lab technologist Dean Wendel says, "The cells are mixed evenly so if there are any abnormal cells in that specimen the likelihood of them going onto that slide increase tremendously."
Liquid pap smears are neater and clearer. "We're excited what it can do and we're hopeful in the future we can convert all our physicians to liquid pap smears," Wendel says. Liquid pap smears are a little more expensive, but Wendel says the benefits outweigh the extra cost. It can cut down on the chance of a woman being called back for another test, and also gets test results back faster to the patient. Wendel says, "Anything that will aid us in picking up abnormalities, that's what we want to do for the patient."
Again, not all Heartland doctors are using liquid pap smears, talk to your gynecologist about what's best for you.