Journal of Cytology
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CASE REPORT Table of Contents   
Year : 2009  |  Volume : 26  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 123-124
Aspergillus in a cervico-vaginal smear of an adult postmenopausal female: An unusual case

1 Department of Pathology, Armed Forces Medical College, Pune, India
2 Command Hospital, Udhampur, Jammu and Kashmir, India

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Date of Web Publication27-Jan-2010


There are several case reports documenting opportunistic fungal infection in the female genital tract, with Aspergillus spp being a rarely reported causative organism. We hereby report a case of Aspergillus infection in a 48 year-old, postmenopausal female with carcinoma of the cervix. She presented with features of pelvic inflammatory disease, and an initial routine cervico-vaginal smear revealed severe inflammation along with fungal bodies. The features were consistent with the presence of Aspergillus spp, while the background epithelial cells were negative for intraepithelial malignancy. She was offered therapy for pelvic inflammatory disease. A repeat Papanicolaou smear after two weeks was negative for intraepithelial organisms, but showed the evidence of a high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion, with biopsy confirming squamous cell carcinoma.

Keywords: Aspergillus ; cervix; papanicolaou smear.

How to cite this article:
Deb P, Srivastava A. Aspergillus in a cervico-vaginal smear of an adult postmenopausal female: An unusual case. J Cytol 2009;26:123-4

How to cite this URL:
Deb P, Srivastava A. Aspergillus in a cervico-vaginal smear of an adult postmenopausal female: An unusual case. J Cytol [serial online] 2009 [cited 2023 Feb 2];26:123-4. Available from:

   Introduction Top

Aspergillus spp is a fungus known to cause both acquired and nosocomial infections in human beings. The most commonly affected sites are the lungs, soft tissue, and skin. [1],[2]

We report here an unusual case in which Aspergillus spp. was detected in the cervical smear of a postmenopausal female who presented with features of pelvic inflammatory disease.

   Case Report Top

A 48 year-old postmenopausal female was referred to the Gynecology clinic with complaints of a foul-smelling vaginal discharge and pain in the hypogastric region. There was no associated history of bleeding per vaginum, dyspareunia, weight loss, or other local symptoms.

Gynecological examination revealed an unhealthy cervix without any other incriminating signs. Results of routine clinical and laboratory examinations, including blood glucose levels, were within normal limits. Screening for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) serology yielded negative results.

Cytological findings

A routine Papanicolaou smear showed the features of severe inflammation, along with fungal structures with fruiting bodies consistent with the presence of Aspergillus spp, while background epithelial cells were negative for intraepithelial malignancy [Figure 1]. The patient was offered therapy for pelvic inflammatory disease only, and instructed to report after two weeks.

A repeat Papanicolaou smear was negative for intraepithelial organisms, but showed epithelial cell abnormality: A high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (HSIL).

Histopathology findings

In light of the HSIL seen in the Papanicolaou smear, the patient was taken up for four-quadrant cervical biopsy, the histopathological examination of which confirmed squamous cell carcinoma.

Based on the histopathology report, the patient was referred to an oncology centre.

   Discussion Top

Infections of the genitourinary tract are a common problem. Sullam et al.[1] reported a prevalence of 52.8% with a spectrum consisting of Candida albicans (28.0%), Trichomonas vaginalis (8.7%), Aspergillus species (7.4%), Streptococci (4.6%), and Chlamydia trachomatis (4.2%).

However, apart from Candida albicans, fungal pathology is rarely seen in cervico-vaginal smears. Most reported cases of female genital tract infections with opportunistic fungi in cervical smears included Blastomyces dermatitidis, Coccidioides immitis, Aspergillus flavus, Cryptococcus neoformans and Mucor, with very few cases of Aspergillus spp. [2]

Aspergillus species are members of the eumycetes and although most species reproduce asexually, some also have a sexual phase (teleomorphs). Conidia are produced in both forms; the conidiogenous cell is phialidic. A. fumigatus, for example, grows as gray-green colonies with a conidial mass and microscopic examination reveals septate hyphae branched at 45-degree angles with conidial heads composed of a vesicle, phialides, and conidial chains. Aspergillus species have antigenic moieties that elicit antibody responses in patients with allergic forms of the disease or with mycetoma. [3]

The respiratory system, as seen with aspergilloma, is the most common site of infection, as seen in opportunistic infections in immunocompromised patients. Disseminated disease almost always results from a primary pulmonary infection, but it can also occur from skin inoculation or when no likely entry source is identifiable. Virtually any site can be involved as a result of hematogenous dissemination, including the central nervous system, heart (abscesses or pericarditis), gastrointestinal tract, kidney, liver (resembling hepatosplenic candidiasis), thyroid, or spleen. [4],[5],[6]

In the present case, Aspergillus was incidentally detected in a female who presented with features suggestive of pelvic inflammatory disease and was subsequently diagnosed as a case of cervical carcinoma. The aim of this case report is to highlight an unusual site of infection by Aspergillus spp.

   References Top

1.Sullam SA, Mahfouz AA, Dabbous NI, el-Barrawy M, el-Said M. Reproductive tract infections among married women in upper Egypt. East Mediterr Health J 2001;7:139-46.   Back to cited text no. 1      
2.Sheyn I, Mira JL, Thompson MB. Paracoccidioides brasiliensis in a postpartum Pap smear. Acta Cytol 2001;45:79-81.   Back to cited text no. 2  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]  
3.Kwon-Chung KJ, Bennett JE. Medical mycology. Philadelphia: Lea and Febiger;1992.  Back to cited text no. 3      
4.Denning DW. Invasive aspergillosis. Clin Infect Dis 1998;26:781-805.  Back to cited text no. 4  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]  
5.Young RC, Bennett JE, Vogel CL, Carbone PP, DeVita VT. Aspergillosis: The spectrum of disease in 98 patients. Medicine (Baltimore) 1970;49:147-73.  Back to cited text no. 5  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]  
6.Meyer RD, Young LS, Armstrong D, Yu B. Aspergillosis complicating neoplastic disease. Am J Med 1973;54:6-15.  Back to cited text no. 6  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]  

Correspondence Address:
Prabal Deb
Department of Pathology, Armed Forces Medical College, Pune - 411 040
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0970-9371.59401

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  [Figure 1]

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