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To examine for clue cells, Trichomonas, and sperm.


Aqueous sodium chloride, glass microscope slide, and coverslip.


  1. Place a drop of saline onto the middle of the glass slide. (Alternative method: Place several drops of saline in a small glass test tube and place the swab in the tube. The swab can then be wiped onto a slide at a later time.)

  2. Mix a small amount of vaginal fluid to be examined into the saline drop.

  3. Overlay a coverslip.

  4. Examine directly through microscope at ×40 and ×100 (oil immersion).

FIGURE 25.16

Clue Cells. “Glitter cell” or “clue cell”: Epithelial cell covered with adherent bacteria in a wet mount of a vaginal specimen from a patient with Gardnerella vaginalis (also known as nonspecific vaginitis or bacterial vaginosis). Note the refractile appearance, indistinct borders, and ragged edges of the epithelial clue cell. (Photo contributor: Curatek Pharmaceuticals.)


Trichomonas. Saline wet mount demonstrating oval-bodied, flagellated trichomonads. They are similar in size to leukocytes and can be distinguished from them by their motility and presence of flagella. (Photo contributor: H. Hunter Handsfield, MD. From Handsfield HH (ed). Atlas of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 3rd ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill; 2011.)


Trichomonas. Saline wet mount demonstrating a single trichomonad. Its flagella are not easily seen in this photograph. See Video 25.1 to see flagellating movement. (Photo contributor: Lawrence B. Stack, MD.)

Vedio Graphic Jump Location
Video 25-01: Trichomonas

Saline wet mount demonstrating Brownian movement of two oval-bodied trichomonads from a patient with vaginitis.

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FIGURE 25.18

Spermatozoa. Spermatozoa may be motile or immotile. (Reproduced with permission, from Strasinger SK, Di Lorenzo MS. Urinalysis and Body Fluids. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis Company; 2008, p. 102.)

Vedio Graphic Jump Location
Video 25-02: Motile Spermatozoa

Normal spermatozoa motility is observed in this specimen.

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