When a pap smear
results show abnormalities
, a Colposcopy
typically the follow-up procedure
to either diagnose or rule out
probability of cervical cancer
. In order for a colposcopy to be performed,
the doctor needs a colposcope
(a special camera used to see and/or take
pictures of the cervix
), a generic speculum
, pap-like 'Q'-tips, a
, and a table/couch which supports a woman's
The speculum is inserted into the vagina and acetic acid, usually
white household vinegar, is applied to the area of the patient's cervix
which appears worrisome to determine the origin and shape of abnormal cells.
In the presence of vinegar, dyskaryotic, or abormal, cells become white.
Generally, the more dense the white areas, the higher concentration of
After the acetic acid, a water-based iodine solution is applied to the
whole of the cervix to identify abnormalities which may not be immediately
obvious. Under the influence of iodine, dyskaryotic cells stain yellow while
harmless cells stain pure black.
Once the colposcopy is performed, a biopsy may be taken in cases of
abundant abnormalities. A biopsy is taken using special forceps, which
resemble a threateningly sharp knife with a bird's beak tip, from the area
with the highest concentration of abnormalities. The forceps are used to
scrape a specific portion of the cervix for a sample of the abnormal cells
to be sent to a lab. Pain during a biopsy is usually described as a severe
menstrual cramp, which continues for a short period of time
Also after the biopsy, most doctors reccommend avoiding intercourse,
tampons, and douching until at least two weeks after the procedure.
Wearing a sanitary napkin is also reccommended to retain the iodine,
vinegar, and/or blood discharge that may occurr for 7 to 10 days
If symptoms of foul odor and/or discharge persist after two weeks, a
check-up may be required to rule out infection. If symptoms persist,
additional action may be taken to ensure a smooth recovery. Some doctors
reccommend the use of triple sulpha antiseptic cream for 7 days after the
colposcpy-biopsy procedure in order to reduce the risk of infection. If a
patient suspects an infection is present, she should contact her
gynecologist and schedule an appointment, as well as avoid the use of any
over the counter medications for any symptoms until the doctor can
accurately diagnose the origins of said symptoms.
Fertility is generally unaffected by both the colposcopy and biopsy. If
additional medical attention is required after the initial biopsy to
remove pre-cancerous, cancerous, tumourous, or troublesome cells, the
treatment can take three general routes: burning and cauterising
the cells, freezing the cells, or scraping the afflicted area.
Extra-special and fabulous thanks to bishopred1 for the formatting help.