Decrease in numbers of glandular cell groups in post-LLETZ liquid-based cytology preparations


A. Maguire, Department of Cytopathology, St Luke’s Hospital, Rathgar, Dublin, Ireland.
Tel.: +353 1 4065297; Fax: +353 1 4065 146;


Objective:  Large loop excision of the transformation zone (LLETZ) has become standard of care in the management of cervical squamous neoplasia and with cone biopsy glandular intraepithelial neoplasia. Controversy remains about the long-term effects of this traumatic procedure. The aim of this study was to count and compare the number of endocervical glandular cell groups in pre- and post-LLETZ cervical preparations using liquid-based cytology to establish a cyto-morphological correlate of destruction of the transformation zone.

Methods:  The cytology/histology correlation audit records of the Cytopathology Department of St Luke’s Hospital in 2003 and early 2004 were used to select patients with a cytological diagnosis of high grade dyskaryosis followed by LLETZ. Only those cases with post-LLETZ cytological follow-up were selected. Cases using conventional smears were excluded. One hundred and twenty slides (60 pairs of slides) in total were retrieved. The cases underwent review and all groups of >3 glandular cells in each slide were counted by AM while blinded as to whether smears were pre- or post-LLETZ. Medians were compared using a Mann–Whitney U-test.

Results:  The median number of groups of endocervical glandular cells of the pre-treatment group was 5.5 and of the post-treatment group was 2.0. There were significantly fewer endocervical glandular cell groups in the post-LLETZ population (P = 0.03).

Conclusions:  The number of endocervical glandular groups in cervical cytological preparations decreases significantly following LLETZ procedure. This suggests that cytological follow-up may not be as useful in glandular neoplasia cases. Few or absent glandular cell groups in post-LLETZ preparations may have implications for adequacy assessment.