Your doctor may take a sample, or biopsy,
of abnormal tissue. The majority of warts do not require a biopsy. But a biopsy
may be taken if
genital warts cannot be easily identified with a
physical examination or during a gynecology exam with a lighted magnifying
instrument (colposcopy). A microscopic exam on the biopsied tissue
can help your doctor determine whether
human papillomavirus (HPV) is present.
Usually genital warts are diagnosed by an exam. Warts have a characteristic appearance, but your doctor may want to take a biopsy (a small sample of tissue) to determine if the lesion is really a genital wart.
Genital warts are caused by the HPV virus. Tests to determine the subtype of HPV are sometimes recommended since some are low risk for cancer and others are higher risk.
If you are a woman and are diagnosed with warts, make sure to be tested for cervical irregularities by a pelvic exam.
The biopsy can be done in your doctor's
office or clinic. You may have an injection of a numbing medicine (local anesthetic). This is more likely to be used for biopsies of the outer
genital area on both men and women: this includes the
scrotum, or penis. The injection can be painful. But
local anesthetic is necessary when the biopsy is likely to be more painful than
There usually are no complications after a
Why It Is Done
You may have a biopsy if any of the
following are true:
Your doctor is not sure what type of abnormal
tissue is present.
Warts have not responded to
Warts appear unusual.
Findings of a biopsy may include the
No abnormal cells are found, which usually means that an
HPV is not present.
Abnormal cells called koilocytes are found. Koilocytes
are cells that appear hollow or concave when examined under a microscope.
Koilocyte cells collected from the genital or anal areas are abnormal and
indicate infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV).