Pap Smear Procedure
During a smear test, the doctor or practice nurse inserts a speculum coated with lubricating gel into the vagina and this allows them to see the cervix clearly. A spatula or small plastic brush is then wiped across the cervix to capture some cervical cells. The cells are carefully transferred onto either a glass slide or into a small vial of liquid (Liquid based cytology*) depending on which method is used to collect the cells in your gp's practice; this is then then sent off to a laboratory for a microscopic examination.
During the procedure your gp or practice nurse may also perform a brief internal examination to check there are no other problems present.
*Liquid Based Cytology
Liquid based Cytology (LBC) is a fairly new method of collecting cells during a pap smear test. It involves the same procedure as a standard smear test although instead of cells being collected by a speculum, they are collected on a small plastic brush. They are then placed in a liquid to be sent to the laboratory.
Liquid based cytology is a more effective form of smear test as it reduces the number of inadequate smears from 9% to around 1-2%. This means women are less likely to be recalled for repeat testing.
Related Smear Test Articles
For further information about HPV visit NHS Cancer Screening Programme.
Further information about Colposcopy and invasive illness is available from the British Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology.
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