Laboratory Professionals

The ThinPrep Imaging System

The ThinPrep Imaging System combines the power of computer-assisted screening with human diagnostic experience. With Dual Review screening of every slide, your laboratory can achieve a new standard in cervical cancer testing with respect to accuracy and efficiency.

The ThinPrep vision

Since Dr. George Papanicolaou introduced his test for cervical cancer in the 1940s, scientists and clinicians have sought to improve the technology and ease the labor-intensive nature of the work. While pap testing has clearly become one of the most successful cancer screening programs ever introduced, the original conventional "pap smear" also had significant limitations that could lead to false negative results. The problems were generally due to two factors: sampling/preparation errors and screening errors. In the late 1980s, our company began working with leading academic centers to develop a system for automated computer imaging analysis of pap smears. The idea was simple: to have a computer read the slides, thereby reducing screening errors and the often-laborious manual screening process. However, it became apparent that the main obstacle to computer imaging was the poor quality of the cellular presentation with the conventional pap smear. In an effort to improve the clarity and consistency of the pap test, we developed a method where the sample is collected from the patient in the same manner, but is immediately rinsed in a vial of preservative solution. The sample is sent to the lab, where it is processed using an automated instrument that removes non-diagnostic debris and transfers a representative sample of the cells in a thin layer on the slide — the ThinPrep Pap Test.

Clinical trials clearly demonstrated that the ThinPrep Pap Test increased disease detection — not only due to the improved preparation, but also to the more representative subsample being placed on the slide. In the late 1990s, the ThinPrep Pap Test was approved by the FDA as a significantly more effective replacement to the conventional pap smear, and was rapidly adopted by clinicians and laboratories.

The ThinPrep Pap Test revolutionized pap testing by improving specimen adequacy and disease detection. With the initial problems of consistency and clarity resolved, we returned to our original mission of computer imaging — but with the added benefit of the advances in computing that had taken place in the interim. Approved by the FDA in 2003, the ThinPrep Imager scans every cell and cell cluster on a ThinPrep Pap Test slide and identifies areas of interest for further review, which allows the cytotechnologist to better focus his or her interpretive skills in these defined areas. The ThinPrep Imaging System is thus designed to reduce false negative test results and human error. In addition, the combination of the ThinPrep Pap Test and the ThinPrep Imaging System provides a more accurate diagnosis.

It took more than 20 years for our ThinPrep vision to be realized. Today, over 90 percent of physicians use the ThinPrep Pap Test; and the ThinPrep Imaging System has quickly gained momentum with 70%1 of all ThinPrep Pap Test slides being imaged — and it's still growing. Most important, we're proud to say that the majority of women in the United States are currently screened with the best pap test technology available — the ThinPrep Pap Test.


Hologic's fully integrated workflow platform for cervical cancer testing consists of the ThinPrep 2000 Processor, the ThinPrep 3000 Processor, and the ThinPrep Imaging System. The ThinPrep 2000 Processor and the ThinPrep 3000 Processor both utilize technology that provides consistent, reproducible results. The ThinPrep Pap Test process ensures a representative transfer of cells from the ThinPrep Pap Test vial to the slide, and produces a well-visualized, thin-layer slide.

Learn about the ThinPrep 3000


1. Data on file. Hologic, Inc. Bedford, MA

See why 70% of all ThinPrep Pap Tests are now imaged.

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See a list of key studies involving the ThinPrep
Pap Test and the ThinPrep Imaging System.

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