What is the role of T vaginalis cultures in the diagnosis of trichomoniasis?

Updated: Jan 02, 2020
  • Author: Darvin Scott Smith, MD, MSc, DTM&H; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Culture was the criterion standard for trichomoniasis diagnosis before the introduction of molecular testing techniques. Culture is more sensitive and specific than microscopy but similar in both respects to molecular testing techniques. [57, 102] Providers may perform T vaginalis cultures when the suspicion of trichomoniasis is high but other tests do not reveal the protozoan. Culture has also been demonstrated to be useful in individuals with suspected resistant trichomoniasis, as providers can obtain the drug susceptibility of the strain. In addition, culture may be useful as diagnostic screening in high-risk populations. [16]

Disadvantages of culture include testing time and availability. [30] The CDC does not recommend oral and rectal testing, as infection rates at these sites appear to be low. [48]

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