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Reviewer: Farnaz Hasteh, M.D., UCSD Medical Center (see Reviewers page)
Revised: 24 September 2012, last major update November 2010
Copyright: (c) 2006-2012, PathologyOutlines.com, Inc.


● Presence of gram negative rods (lactobacilli) with cytolysis of intermediate cells


● Also known as bacillus vaginalis, Doderlein bacilli
● “Lactobacillosis” are pathogenic forms of lactobacilli
● Leptothrix is another pathogen form of lactobacilli


● Gram positive rods that are part of normal vaginal flora
● Utilize glycogen to ferment to lactic acid

Clinical features

● Normal vaginal flora
● More common in second half of menstrual cycle, pregnancy and diabetes mellitus
● Decreased with bacterial vaginosis, antibiotic use and postmenopause
● Lactobacilli prevent vaginosis, candida or other sexually transmitted diseases (FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol 2006;48:424, Microbios 1994;80:125), perhaps by production of hydrogen peroxide

Cytology description

● Bacterial cytolysis: bare nuclei of intermediate cells and many lactobacilli in the background
● Cytolysis is limited to intermediate cells
● Cytolysis does not affect dysplastic cells
● Abundant cytolysis (>50% of cells) may be reported but the specimen can still be considered “satisfactory”

Cytology images

Various images

End of Cervix-cytology > Inflammation/parasites > Lactobacillus

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