Colposcopy is a procedure that uses an instrument with a magnifying lens and a light, called a colposcope, to closely examine the cervix (the opening to the uterus), vagina and vulva for abnormalities and signs of disease. The doctor will recommend colposcopy if your Pap smear test has shown abnormal results. If the doctor finds an unusual area of cells during colposcopy, a sample of tissue can be collected for laboratory testing (biopsy).
Colposcopy feels similar to a Pap smear collection. Instead of taking a sample of cervical cells, the doctor will put the colposcope at the vaginal opening to more closely examine your cervical tissue in order to detect any abnormalities. In areas where cervical tissue may appear suspicious, the doctor will use another instrument to obtain a small tissue sample. You may feel a slight pinch or cramp and there might be some minor bleeding from the biopsy site, or temporary pelvic pain. The tissue will then be sent to the lab for analysis.
Your doctor may recommend a colposcopy if:
• your Pap smear test has shown abnormal results
• you experience bleeding after intercourse
• you have an abnormal growth visible on your cervix, vulva, or vagina
A colposcopy can be used to diagnose:
• abnormal cervical cells, or pre-cancer or cancer of the cervix, vagina, or vulva
• genital warts
• inflammation of the cervix (cervicitis)
Depending upon the biopsy results, various treatments can be performed in your physician office. These treatments may include observation, cryosurgery or “freezing” of the cervix, laser removal or “burning,” and LEEP procedures.
• LEEP or Loop Electrosurgical Excision
Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) uses a wire loop heated by electric current to remove cells and tissue as part of the diagnosis and treatment for abnormal or cancerous conditions in a woman’s cervix and vagina.
• Cervical Biopsy
Cervical biopsy is a procedure done to remove tissue from the cervix to test for abnormal or pre-cancerous lesions, or cervical cancer.