The ThinPrep Difference

Beyond the Conventional Pap Smear

Over the last half century, the conventional pap smear has been responsible for a 70% decrease in cervical cancer deaths. While this makes the conventional pap smear one of the most successful cancer screening programs, certain limitations have impaired the sensitivity of the test, leaving room for improvement. The ThinPrep Pap Test addressed these limitations with liquid-based preparation — improving specimen adequacy and significantly increasing test sensitivity. The ThinPrep Pap Test is the first test of this kind, and since its introduction, it has contributed to a further 28% reduction in invasive cervical cancers in the United States..1

Fewer errors

In addition to the ThinPrep Pap Test’s improved slide quality, proprietary technology eliminates common errors associated with preparing a specimen. To prepare a conventional pap smear slide, a clinician collects a cervical sample with a collection device and smears a portion of that sample onto a microscope slide. The conventional pap smear specimen may often be clouded with debris such as blood and mucus, which obscure cell visibility. If the cells are not immediately sprayed with a fixative solution, drying artifact may also occur. Additionally, after the clinician prepares a conventional slide, the collection device is discarded, sometimes with more than 80% of the patient's sample still on the device.2

Conventional pap smear slide preparation

Liquid-based cytology

The ThinPrep Pap Test is a liquid-based pap test that employs a fluid transport medium to preserve cells and an automated process to eliminate debris and distribute a representative portion of cells on a slide in a uniform, even layer. A ThinPrep Pap Test slide is clearer, easier to read, and minimizes obscuring blood, mucus, and non-diagnostic debris, enabling increased accuracy for both manual assessment and computerized assessment of the cells. The ThinPrep Pap Test process improves the quality of the sample, preparing a slide that is more appropriate for diagnostic review.

ThinPrep Pap Test slide preparation

Reproducible, representative sample

With the ThinPrep Pap Test, the clinician collects the sample from the patient using either a broom-like device or the brush/spatula combination. However, instead of smearing a portion of the sample onto a microscope slide, the collection device is rinsed in a vial of proprietary preservative solution, capturing virtually the entire cell sample. The specimen is then sent to the laboratory, where an automated processor prepares the slide by dispersing and filtering the sample and then placing a representative sample on the slide. The process ensures that a representative portion of the patient's sample is placed on the microscope slide while reducing obscuring blood, mucus, and nondiagnostic debris. In fact, a study conducted at Tufts University found that the specimen collected in a ThinPrep Pap Test "showed identical cytologic findings in each of the replicate slides in all test cases." And, even with "a smaller fraction of cells, a cell-suspension, filter-transfer method [the ThinPrep Pap Test], ... produced multiple, representative, reproducible samples."2

Conventional Pap Smear

ThinPrep Pap Test


1. Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program. SEER Database: Incidence – SEER 9 Regs Public-Use, Nov. 2004 Sub (1973-2002), National Cancer Institute, DCCPS, Surveillance Research Program, Cancer Statistics Branch, released April 2005, based on November 2004 submission.

2. Hutchinson ML, et al. Homogeneous sampling accounts for the increased diagnotstic accuracy using the ThinPrep® Processor, Am J Clin Pathol. 1994;101:215-19.

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