Colposcopy and Cervical Biopsy
Colposcopy is a way for your doctor to use a special
magnifying device to look at your
cervix. If a problem is seen during colposcopy, a
small sample of tissue (biopsy) may be taken from the cervix or
from inside the opening of the cervix (endocervical canal). The sample is
looked at under a microscope.
See a picture of the
Colposcopy is usually done to look at the vagina and cervix when the result of a
Pap test is abnormal. Many abnormal Pap tests are
caused by viral infections, such as
human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, or other types
of infection, such as those caused by bacteria, fungi (yeast), or protozoa
(Trichomonas). Natural cervical cell changes (atrophic vaginitis) related to
menopause can also cause an abnormal Pap test. In some
cases, untreated cervical cell changes that cause abnormal Pap tests may
progress to precancerous or cancerous changes.
During colposcopy, your doctor uses a lighted magnifying device
that looks like a pair of binoculars (colposcope). The colposcope allows your
doctor to see problems that would be missed by the naked eye. A camera can be
attached to the colposcope to take pictures or videos of the vagina and
Your doctor may put vinegar (acetic acid) and sometimes iodine
(Lugol's solution) on the vagina and cervix with a cotton swab or cotton balls
to see problem areas more clearly.
Why It Is Done
Colposcopy is done to:
- Look at the cervix for problem areas when a Pap
test was abnormal. If an area of abnormal tissue is found during colposcopy, a
cervical biopsy or a biopsy from inside the opening of the cervix (endocervical
canal) is usually done.
- Check a sore or other problem (such as
genital warts) found on or around the vagina and
- Follow up abnormal areas seen on a previous colposcopy.
Colposcopy can also be done to see if treatment for a problem
- Look at the cervix for problem areas if an HPV test shows a
high-risk type of HPV is present.
How To Prepare
Tell your doctor if you:
- Are or might be pregnant. A blood or urine test
may be done before the colposcopy to see whether you are pregnant. Colposcopy
is safe during pregnancy. If a cervical biopsy is needed during a colposcopy,
the chance of any harm to the pregnancy (such as
miscarriage) is very small. But you may have more
bleeding from the biopsy. A colposcopy may be repeated about 6 weeks after
- Are taking any medicines.
- Are allergic to
- Have had bleeding problems or take blood thinners, such
as aspirin or warfarin (Coumadin).
- Have been treated for a vaginal,
cervical, or pelvic infection.