A colposcopy is a simple procedure to examine the cervix, vagina, and vulva with a surgical instrument called a colposcope (a large, electric microscope with a bright light). It’s often performed when the Pap smear results are found unusual. If any abnormal areas or cells are seen then a doctor may perform endocervical curettage (ECC) to retrieve a tissue sample from the inner opening of the cervix to send it for a biopsy. Most of the times these cells go away on their self, but sometimes, if not treated properly, they may eventually convert into cervical cancer. Therefore, colposcopy helps doctors to examine and confirm abnormality in the cells of the cervix and also helps to determine the need to remove these abnormal cells.
Colposcopy is usually performed in following conditions:
- Abnormal Pap smear results
- Bleeding after intercourse
- Abnormal cells growth occurs on cervix, vagina, or vulva
- Diagnosis of abnormal cervical cells, pre-cancer or cancer of the cervix, vagina, or vulva
- Genital warts
- Cervicitis or inflammation of the cervix
Steps of Colposcopy Procedure:
It is often carried out in a hospital and takes about 15-20 minutes without any need for anesthesia. Patient can even go back to home on the same day.
Various steps of this procedure are;
- A patient needs to undress from the waist down and lie down on her back on a table with feet in stirrups with a padded support.
- A speculum is gently inserted to hold the walls of vagina open and allows doctor to see the cervix
- Cervix and vagina are cleaned with cotton and vinegar solution to highlight abnormal areas or cells.
- A doctor may take images of any areas that appear abnormal and suspicious. Also, a small portion of a tissue sample can be removed (biopsy) and sent for laboratory examination.
- Once the biopsy is done, a solution (Monsel’s solution) is applied to control bleeding.
Some women may find it a bit uncomfortable to insert the speculum or complain a stinging sensation from the vinegar solution. Patients should try to keep calm and relaxed during the test by concentrating on taking slow, deep breaths.
Risks or Complications
There are minimal risks after a colposcopy and biopsy, but following rare complications may occur:
- Heavy bleeding that may continue longer than two weeks
- Fever or chills
- Vaginal infection, or a heavy, bad-smelling, yellow discharge from vagina
- Pelvic pain
If a woman suffers from any of these symptoms, she should contact a doctor immediately.
Results after Colposcopy
Any abnormality of cells in cervix or vagina can be seen right away, but a biopsy may take up to four to eight weeks to get the results.
These results may be any of the following:
- Normal results are found in 4 out of 10 women and they are advised to continue regular checkup for cervical screening as usual.
- Abnormal results are found in 6 out of 10 women have abnormal cells and they may need immediate treatment to remove them.
CIN or CGIN are the medical terms commonly used by doctors or nurses while discussing a biopsy examination which indicates the prevalence of the cells becoming cancerous.
For more information or any query related to Colposcopy visit at Shah Hospital and consult with our specialist Gynecologists and Surgeons.