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What is Colposcopy?
Colposcopy is a gynecological procedure used for examining the cervix. Colposcopy is performed to identify tumors and examine abnormalities. During this procedure, special tests and biopsies may be performed. Colposcopy is often performed if the patient’s Pap smear report is abnormal. It may also be done if cervical abnormalities are detected during a pelvic examination.
How is Colposcopy Performed?
The patient needs to lie down on a table and the patient’s legs are held up in stirrups to position the patient’s pelvis for examination. A speculum is inserted to open the vaginal walls for the examination of the cervix. Then, acetic acid is applied to the cervix, which helps in highlighting abnormal sites. In some cases, an iodine-based solution is also used on the cervix. The colposcope is placed at the vaginal opening through which the cervix is viewed. If abnormalities are detected, biopsies may be taken from the affected area. An Endocervical Curettage (ECC) may also be performed in which tissue samples may be taken from the inside the cervix. The squamocolumnar junction of the cervix is specially examined for any signs of cervical cancer.
How to Prepare for Colposcopy?
- The patient may need to empty the bladder and bowels before a colposcopy.
- The patient should abstain from sexual intercourse for 24 hours prior to colposcopy.
- The patient should not have a colposcopy while menstruating heavily.
- The patient should inform the doctor if she is pregnant.
Colposcopy is usually performed as an outpatient procedure.
Most patients go through colposcopy without any anesthesia. Some patients are given topical anesthesia.
- The placement of the speculum may be uncomfortable for the patient.
- The patient may feel a stinging sensation due to the application of vinegar.
- The patient may experience a cramp and a pinching sensation due to the curettage and biopsies.
- The patient is advised to concentrate on slow and regular breathing that alleviates pain.
- Biopsy reports may take 1 to 2 weeks.
- Vaginal soreness
- Dark discharge for 1 to 3 days
- The patient will have some bleeding up to one week after the biopsy.
- The patient should abstain from sexual intercourse and using douche, tampons and creams on the vagina for a week after the procedure.
The patient should contact the doctor if the following symptoms occur:
- Heavy bleeding for more than 2 weeks
- Pain in the abdominal and pelvic areas
- Foul odor and discharge
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