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Throwing the dice for the diagnosis of vaginal complaints?

DOI: 10.1186/1476-0711-5-4

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We evaluated the misjudgement rate of the aetiology of vaginal complaints. A total of 220 vaginal samples from women with a vaginal complaint were obtained and analysed for numbers of total lactobacilli, H2O2-producing lactobacilli, total aerobic cell counts and total anaerobic cell counts including bifidobacteria, Bacteroides spp., Prevotella spp. Additionally, the presence of Atopobium vaginae, Gardnerella vaginalis, Candida spp. and Trichomonas vaginalis was evaluated by DNA-hybridisation using the PCR and Affirm VPIII Microbial Identification Test, respectively.The participating physicians diagnosed Bacterial vaginosis (BV) as origin of discomfort in 80 cases, candidiasis in 109 cases and mixed infections in 8 cases. However, a present BV, defined as lack of H2O2-lactobacilli, presence of marker organisms, such as G. vaginalis, Bacteroides spp. or Atopobium vaginae, and an elevated pH were identified in only 45 cases of the women examined. Candida spp. were detected in 46 cases. Interestingly, an elevated pH corresponded solely to the presence of Atopobium vaginae, which was detected in 11 cases.Errors in the diagnosis of BV and candida vulvovaginitis (CV) were high. Interestingly, the cases of misjudgement of CV (77%) were more numerous than that of BV (61%). The use of Amsel criteria or microscopy did not reduce the number of misinterpretations. The study reveals that the misdiagnosis of vaginal complaints is rather high.The microbiology of the vagina is complex, containing 109 bacterial colony forming units per gram of secretions and potentially dozens of species. It is mainly dominated by members of the genus Lactobacillus, which are capable of H2O2-production and lactic acid, thereby maintaining the generally acidic vaginal pH. Age, phase of the menstrual cycle, sexual activity, contraceptive choice, pregnancy, presence of necrotic tissue or foreign bodies, and use of hygienic products or antibiotics can disrupt this ecosystem. A disturbed vaginal microbiot


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