Original Study| Volume 22, ISSUE 4, P217-222, August 2009

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A 6-Year Experience with Pap Smears in an Urban Adolescent Practice: The Scope and Burden of Abnormalities

Published:April 13, 2009DOI:


      Study Objective

      To determine the prevalence of cervical dysplasia and adherence to recommendations for referral/follow-up in a group of adolescent girls undergoing routine reproductive health care in a primary care setting.


      Retrospective review of all screening Papanicolaou (Pap) smears performed between 12/99 and 12/05.


      An urban academic adolescent medicine practice in New York City.


      824 sexually active adolescent girls.

      Main Outcomes

      Cytology and cervical biopsy results and adherence to follow-up and colposcopy recommendations.


      Among 824 adolescents ages 12–21 years (mean = 17) who underwent 1 to 6 screening Paps, 81% (n = 666) had normal Pap smears only and 19% (n = 158) had at least one abnormal Pap. Of the 1214 screening Pap smears reviewed, only one was suggestive of a high grade lesion, 85 (7%) revealed atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS), 81 (6.6%) showed low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (LGSIL), and the rest were normal. Fifteen percent of patients (n = 123) were referred for at least one colposcopy; only 72% (n = 88) complied. Biopsy identified 5 high-grade lesions; 3 patients required cervical Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedures: Despite appropriate referrals and access to services, 32% of patients with ASCUS and 28% of patients with LGSIL lacked evidence of either follow-up Pap or colposcopy by the time of last review.


      High-grade lesions were rare in our sample, supporting new guidelines for less colposcopy in this age group. Although many adolescents were followed within primary care, achieving appropriate follow-up for those with cervical dysplasia was challenging and often unsuccessful.

      Key Words

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