LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Download full-text
Beware of Contaminants
on Cytological Smears
Dear Dr. Bedrossian:
In a recent article submitted by Yakoushina et al., the
presence of round to oval cyanophilic bodies, considered
as ‘‘Blue blobs’’ on a ThinPrep Pap test in a postmeno-
pausal atrophy smear, is reported.1
After observing the morphological features and bearing
in mind that it is only a picture, in my opinion I think
that the structure shown by the authors is a contaminant,
particularly a freshwater microalga which could be either
a Batrachospermum moniliforme sp., or a Lemanea fluvia-
tilis sp., both belonging to the red algae genus (Nemalio-
phycidae order; Rhodophyta division). These types of
algae live in fountains, rivers, lakes, and reservoirs, and
they are some of the most frequent freshwater species.2
From a morphological perspective, the typical round
elements arranged as beads in a necklace, and the exis-
tence of small enlargements in the parts of the stem that
connect the beads, are very characteristic.
The presence of algae on cytological smears is an
uncommon finding occasionally reported in the litera-
ture.3,4Water contamination (intrinsic or extrinsic) is the
likeliest cause. If there is extrinsic contamination, the ex-
istence of the same structure processed and stained with
the same method in other samples, is an important factor
to take into account. Its existence on cytological smears,
when ‘‘screening’’ is exercised, should be reported to
avoid confusion with other structures such as cellular
debris and, especially, filamentous fungi.
Rafael Martı ´nez-Giro ´n, M.D., Ph.D.*
CF Anatomı ´a Patolo ´gica y Citologı ´a
Instituto de Piedras Blancas-Asturias, Spain
1. Yakoushina TV, Medina IM, Hoda RS. ‘‘String of pearls’’ appear-
ance of blue blobs in postmenopausal atrophy on ThinPrep Pap test.
Diagn Cytopathol 2009;37:738–739.
2. Eloranta K, Kwandrans J. Indicator value of freshwater red algae in
running waters for water quality assessment. Ocean Hydrob Studies
3. Martı ´nez-Giro ´n R, Ribas-Barcelo ´ A. Algae in cytologic smears. Acta
4. Martı ´nez-Giro ´n R, Mene ´ndez-Rodrı ´guez P, Tamargo-Pela ´ez ML,
Torre-Bayo ´n C, Lo ´pez-Cabanilles D, Ribas-Barcelo ´ A. Crystalloid
structures in a cervicovaginal smear: An observation different from
the gynaecological perspective. Diagn Cytopathol 2007;35:738–739.
*Correspondence to: Rafael Martı ´nez-Giro ´n, M.D., Ph.D., CF Anato-
mı ´a Patolo ´gica y Citologı ´a, Instituto de Piedras Blancas, 33450-P Blan-
cas-Asturias, Spain. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Received 25 June 2009; Accepted 31 July 2009
Published online 30 September 2009 in Wiley InterScience (www.
' 2009 WILEY-LISS, INC.
Diagnostic Cytopathology, Vol 38, No 3