Assuring the quality of quality assurance: Seeding abnormal slides into the negative Papanicolaou smears that will be rapid rescreened

Joanne Clarke*, Julia K. Thurloe, Ron C. Bowditch, Jennifer M. Roberts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND. Rapid rescreening (RR) of negative Papanicolaou smears (PS) is used in many countries as a quality-assurance measure. Seeding of abnormal slides has been Suggested as a way to increase the sensitivity of this procedure. Since 2004, the authors have carried out RR with seeding before issuing reports. In this article, they describe their experience.

METHODS. Abnormal seeds were sourced from the previous day's high-grade cases, both squamous and glandular. Slides were evaluated for the 'degree of difficulty' (which was defined as the number of fields required to find (fields-to-find [FTF]) the abnormality), relabeled, and redotted to make them indistinguishable from the routine RR work. The number of seeds found/missed, the identity of the screener, the type of seeded abnormality, the degree of difficulty of the seed, and the mapping technique used all were recorded. The cytologists also were surveyed about their views on seeding.

RESULTS. Overall, 14.8% of 3082 high-grade seeds were missed during RR. There was no relation between seeds missed and the mapping technique used. However, the difficulty of the seed was relevant to the number missed and ranged from 8.3% when the FTF was 10 (P =.000). The difference between intraepithelial seeds and invasive seeds was significant for squamous seeds (P =.031) but not for glandular seeds. Glandular seeds also were more likely to be missed than squamous seeds (23.1% vs 14.3%; P =.002). Most cytologists believed that seeding was a good idea and that seeds increased their level of vigilance.

CONCLUSIONS, The authors' experience demonstrated that routine seeding is practicable for both conventional and liquid-based slides. With the advent of the human papillomavirus vaccine, abnormalities will become rarer, and seeding will be necessary to maintain the alertness of cytologists. Cancer (Cancer Cytopathol) 2008;114:294-9. (C) 2008 American Cancer Society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294-299
Number of pages6
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Papanicolaou smears
  • rapid rescreening
  • quality assurance
  • sensitivity
  • high-grade abnormalities


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