Cytology of 575 young women with prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol

Obstetrics and gynecology, Dr Arthur Herbst, 1976

cytology lab image
This 1976 study indicates that the presence of mucinous columnar or metaplastic squamous cells in vaginal scrapes is suggestive of vaginal adenosis but that vaginal cytology cannot be considered a uniformly reliable screening technic for detecting the presence of this disorder.

1976 Study Abstract

The vaginal and cervical cellular changes encountered in 575 postpubertal females exposed prenatally to diethylstilbestrol (DES) were compared with those of an unexposed population with particular reference to the role of cytology in the detection of vaginal adenosis and cervical ectropion (erosion).

Several methods of obtaining specimens were utilized, the most effcacious of which was scraping of the vagina, especially the fornices, and the portio vaginalis of the cervix.
With this technic, columnar cells of the mucinous type and metaplastic squamous cells were observed in 34% of the vaginal scrapes and 54% of the scrapes of the cervical portio.
A higher incidence was apparent among those patients in whom iodine staining of the vaginal mucosa was abnormal or vaginal adenosis was proven by biopsy.
Moderate to severe dysplasia of the squamous cells or atypical glandular cells were found in 1% of the exposed subjects.

This study indicates that the presence of mucinous columnar or metaplastic squamous cells in vaginal scrapes is suggestive of vaginal adenosis but that vaginal cytology cannot be considered a uniformly reliable screening technique for detecting the presence of this disorder.

Sources and more information
  • Cytology of 575 young women with prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol, Robboy SJ, Friedlander LM, Welch WR, Keh PC, Taft PD, Barnes AB, Scully RE, Herbst AL., Obstet Gynecol. 1976 Nov;48(5):511-5. NCBI PMID: 980279.
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