A comparison of Dacron versus flocked nylon swabs for anal cytology specimen collection

Julia C. Gage, Arpita Ghosh, Sylvia Borgonovo, Stephen Follansbee, Nicolas Wentzensen, Patti E. Gravitt, Niels Grabe, Bernd Lahrmann, Philip E. Castle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Objectives: We compared the performance of commonly used Dacron versus flocked nylon swabs for anal cytology. Study Design: From 23 HIV-positive men screened at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco (San Francisco, Calif., USA), 2 anal specimens were collected, 1 with each swab in random order, and placed into liquid cytology medium. Specimens were tested for cellularity by quantifying a genomic DNA (erv-3). The number of cells was assessed from prepared slides by automated image analysis. Performance was compared between swabs using 2-sample t tests and standard crossover trial analysis methods accounting for period effect. Results: Flocked swabs collected slightly more erv-3 cells than Dacron for the first sample although not significantly (p = 0.18) and a similar number of erv-3 cells for the second sample (p = 0.85). Flocked swabs collected slightly more cells per slide than the Dacron swabs at both time periods although this was only significant in the second time period (p = 0.42 and 0.03 for first and second periods, respectively). In crossover trial analysis, flocked swabs outperformed Dacron for cell count per slide based on slide imaging (p = 0.03), but Dacron and flocked swabs performed similarly based on erv-3 quantification (p = 0.14). Conclusions: Further studies should determine whether flocked swabs increase the representation of diagnostically important cells compared to Dacron.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)364-367
Number of pages4
JournalActa cytologica
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Anal neoplasia
  • Cytological techniques
  • Cytology
  • Human papillomavirus testing
  • Screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology


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