What is Colposcopy?

Colposcopy is a procedure which is performed to examine the woman’s cervix, vagina and vulva closely. If the doctor observes any problem during colposcopy, a sample of the tissue called biopsy sample will be taken from the cervix or endocervical canal to examine the tissue further under the microscope for confirming the diagnosis.
Colposcopy helps the health care provider to look at the abnormal cells in the cervix with the help of a special magnifying microscope called colposcope.

Why is it done?

Colposcopy is mostly recommended by the doctor if the results obtained from the cervical cancer screening tests (like Pap test, HPV test) are abnormal.

How is Colposcopy performed?

  • The procedure is carried out in a special outpatient clinic by a colposcopist or a gynecologist.
  • The patient should lie flat on an operation table or couch with feet raised and supported by foot rests.
  • The doctor will then insert a special lubricated tool called speculum into the vagina. The speculum helps to gently spread the vaginal walls and hold it to look inside the vagina at the cervix.
  • The doctor then moves the colposcope to see the internal environment of the vagina and cervix through the microscope. 
  • The microscope has a strong light to illuminate the inner space of the cervix and vagina. A small camera attached to the end of the device will help to capture and project the images of cervix on a monitor present in the operating room.
  • Acetic acid or Lugol’s solution may also be applied on the walls cervix and vagina to see the abnormal areas more clearly.

What happens during the biopsy?

If the doctor finds any abnormal tissue on the cervix or vagina, she will take a sample of the tissue called biopsy to examine thoroughly under the microscope for the determination of any cancerous growth. 
There are two types of biopsies

  • Vaginal biopsy: It is not much painful but the biopsy of lower portion of the vulva and vagina may cause some pain. To eliminate any discomfort, local anesthetic will be administered to numb the area until the procedure gets completed.
  • Cervical biopsy: It causes slight discomfort but minimal pain. The patient may feel some pressure and slight cramping while performing the cervical biopsy.

To examine the sample of tissue from inside the opening of cervix, a special test called endocervical curettage is performed. Endocervical curettage uses a special small sharp edged tool called curette to extract the sample inside the opening of the cervix (endocervical canal)
The whole procedure lasts for about 5 minutes

What to expect after the test?

  • The patient may feel soreness in the vagina for 2-3 days and may have minimal bleeding or spotting, for a few days the vaginal discharge may be dark-colored.
  • Use sanitary pads if you have any bleeding after the test to reduce the risk of infections.
  • Inform the doctor if you have symptoms like fever, belly pain, vaginal bleeding or foul smelling odor in vaginal discharge.
  • Patient can resume to normal routine activities the day after colposcopy. 

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Dr. Prabha Ramakrishna.

Senior Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Dr. Chitra Sreenivasa Murthy.

Senior Consultant - Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Book Appointment With Dr. Chitra Sreenivasa Murthy,Obstetrician & Gynaecologist

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