What is colposcopy?
Colposcopy lets the cervix be examined in more detail through a magnifying device. It can detect problems of the cervix that cannot be seen with the eye alone.
A speculum is inserted into the vagina so that the cervix can be seen. A liquid solution is then applied to the cervix to assist in identifying any cell changes. If any areas of abnormal tissue are identified during the colposcopy, a biopsy may need to be performed.
- For a biopsy, a small sample of tissue is removed and sent to a laboratory to be studied.
- Endo-cervical sampling also may be done. A small brush or other instrument is used to take a tissue sample from the cervical canal.
- Colposcopies are well tolerated and usually only take 10-20 minutes.
Treatment of cervical changes depends on many factors. CIN 1 usually goes away by itself. For this reason, CIN 1 may be monitored with repeat Pap tests. No treatment is needed unless there is an HSIL Pap test result, CIN 1 has been present for 2 years, the CIN becomes CIN 2 or CIN 3, or there are other medical problems.
Techniques used to treat CIN include:
- Large Loop Excision of the Transformation Zone (LLETZ) – A thin wire loop that carries an electric current is used to remove abnormal areas of the cervix. The areas that are removed are sent to a laboratory to be studied.
- Cone biopsy – A cone-shaped wedge of the cervix is removed for study.
These procedures are generally performed under general anaesthetic as a day stay procedure.
Although an abnormal Pap smear results can be very stressful, it is comforting to know that with regular Pap smears, the likelihood of early intervention resulting in cure is reassuringly high.