Background: The Papanicolaou (Pap) smear is an effective method for early detection of cervical cancer. The routine practice of staining is to immediately fix the cervical smear in 95% ethyl alcohol. An alternative method of rehydrating the air-dried cervical smears followed by fixation and conventional staining method can overcome most of the problems associated with short supply and storage of alcohol, wet fixing of slides and transporting them to the cytology centre if the Pap smears are prepared at a peripheral centre. There are only few studies regarding rehydration of cervical smears as a substitute for wet fixation. Aim: The current study was undertaken to assess this technique as an alternative method for conventional wet-fixed smears. Material and Methods: This study was done over a period of 15 months in a tertiary care setup. Two sets of 461 cervical smears were examined; the smears in the first set were fixed in 95% ethyl alcohol and the other set of 461 smears was air dried, rehydrated and then fixed in 95% ethyl alcohol. Both the smears were stained with Pap stain, examined for preservation of cytomorphological features and evaluated using the modification of parameters given by Ng et al. [Acta Cytologica 1994;38:56-64]. Results and Analysis: Two sets of 461 smears each, one air dried and rehydrated and the other wet fixed in alcohol, were evaluated for cytomorphological preservation, and comparison was done. In wet-fixed smears, morphology was excellent in the majority of cases (80.7%). Cytomorphology was optimal in 18% and suboptimal in 1.3% of the cases. The air-dried and rehydrated smears showed excellent morphological preservation in 67%, followed by 29.9% optimal and 2.8% suboptimal preservation. The p value was >0.05, which was not significant. Conclusion: Rehydration, followed by fixation of air-dried smears, is a simple, feasible, applicable and reliable fixation technique which is comparable to the wet-fixed conventional technique used for cervical smears and can be applied for evaluation on a routine basis.

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