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Understanding Cervical Biopsy

A cervical biopsy removes a small piece of tissue from your cervix. This tissue is sent to a lab to check for any problems or changes in the cells such as precancerous conditions or cancer. The cervix is the narrowest part of your womb (uterus). It links the uterus to the vagina.

Why cervical biopsy is done

This procedure may be done if you have an abnormal Pap test or pelvic exam. It helps find cancer and cell changes that could become cancer over time.

How cervical biopsy is done

A cervical biopsy is often done on an outpatient basis. This means you can go home afterward. This is a general idea of what you can expect during the procedure:

  • Your healthcare provider puts a speculum into your vagina. It holds your vagina open so your entire cervix can be seen.

  • A colposcope might be used to look at your cervix. This tool magnifies the surface of your cervix so the provider can see even small areas of changed cells. It doesn't touch your body.

  • The provider may use a solution that's a lot like dilute vinegar to wipe on your cervix if colposcopy is to be done. This solution makes the changed cells turn white and helps the provider find any areas of concern.

  • The provider may use a small needle to inject medicine into your cervix so you don’t feel pain.

  • There are many ways to remove cells/tissue from the cervix: A scissors-like tool called a forceps can be put on the abnormal area of your cervix. Your provider shuts the jaws of the forceps. This cuts off a piece of tissue. Sometimes the provider uses a small spoon-shaped tool (curette) to scrape out cells. Another option is LEEP or a loop electrosurgical procedure. To do this, the provider uses a small, thin, heated wire loop to cut out a piece of tissue.

  • He or she may put a brown paste on the area to stop any bleeding. You may need a stitch if the bleeding doesn’t stop.

  • The tissue is sent to a lab to check for cancer or other cell changes.

Another type of cervical biopsy is called conization or a cone biopsy. This is done much the same way as the others, but sometimes medicines are used so you sleep and don't feel pain (general anesthesia). In this case, it's done in the hospital. A cone biopsy removes a bigger, cone-shaped piece of tissue from the cervix. It can sometimes also be used as treatment because it lets the provider take out all of the changed cells.

Risks of cervical biopsy

These include:

  • Bleeding

  • Cramps

  • Infection

Your healthcare team will talk with you about the type of biopsy that's best for you and what you can expect it to be like.

Online Medical Reviewer: Howard Goodman MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Kim Stump-Sutliff RN MSN AOCNS
Online Medical Reviewer: Lu Cunningham
Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2016
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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