Time interval effect on repeat cervical smear results

John W Bishop, James S. Hartinger, Gene F. Pawlick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Second cervical smears obtained at short time intervals often exhibit a lesser degree of abnormality than the first smear. We studied the effect of time interval between smears on diagnoses in two large, distinctive cohorts. STUDY DESIGN: Patients with two or more satisfactory smears with at least one smear or a cervical biopsy showing atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance or greater were selected. Patients were divided into four subsets by test intervals (days) (≤ 45, 46-90, 91-120, >120) and compared statistically. RESULTS: The distribution of differences between results for the short-interval subsets (<120) was significantly different (P<.01) from the interval subset >120 days. At short intervals the results revealed loss of sensitivity in the second smear as compared to the initial smear and concurrent biopsies. CONCLUSION: Rapidly repeated cervical smears show poor agreement with the biopsy and may be misleading. This effect is most pronounced when the interval is <45 days. Colposcopists should consider whether concurrent smears shortly after an abnormal smear are worth performing, given the loss of sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-276
Number of pages8
JournalActa Cytologica
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • cervical smears
  • follow-up studies
  • predictive value of tests
  • time factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Cell Biology
  • Histology


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