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Plastic specula: can we ease the passage?
  1. L Kozakis,
  2. J Vuddamalay,
  3. P Munday
  1. Watford Sexual Health Clinic, Watford Hospital, Vicarage Road, Watford WD18 0HB, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 L Kozakis
 Watford Sexual Health Clinic, Watford Hospital, Vicarage Road, Watford WD18 0HB, UK; lisa_Kozakis{at}


Background: For many years, genitourinary physicians have taught that specula should be used without lubrication other than water, as it was assumed that gel would interfere with the processing of samples, but there seems little evidence to support this. Many clinics are now using plastic specula to avoid reusable instruments, and one of the commonest problems with such specula is increased friction.

Methods: We looked at the effect of Aquagel on the culture of different dilutions of Neisseria gonorrhoeae on three standard laboratory media. The effect of Aquagel on the chlamydial strand displacement assay (SDA) test was also assessed by mixing different amounts of Aquagel with the positive and negative control and processing in the usual way.

Results: There was found to be no inhibition of culture following emulsification of N gonorrhoeae in Aquagel at any concentration. All the results for the chlamydial SDA test were satisfactory following mixing with Aquagel.

Conclusion: We think that the clinician should now be more confident that if a difficult examination requires the use of a lubricant, the test results will not be compromised.

  • MOTA, method other than acceleration
  • NCTC, National Collection of Type Cultures
  • PCR, polymerase chain reaction
  • SDA, strand displacement assay
  • specula
  • vaginal examination
  • lubricant

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  • Competing interests: none.

  • Ethics approval not sought as no patients or patient material were used.