Colposcopy is a way for your doctor to use a special magnifying device to look at your vulva, vagina, and cervix after an abnormal pap smear test. A speculum (an instrument used to hold open the birth canal in order to view and examine the cervix) will be inserted into the vagina and opened slightly. The cervix is then swabbed with a chemical solution (acetic acid) to remove the mucus that covers the surface and help highlight abnormal areas. The colposcope is then positioned at the opening of the vagina and the area is thoroughly examined. If a problem is seen during colposcopy, a small sample of tissue (biopsy) may be taken from the cervix or from inside the opening of the cervix (endocervical canal). The sample is looked at under a microscope. Photographs may be taken.
Many abnormal Pap tests are caused by viral infections, such as human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, or other types of infection, such as those caused by bacteria, fungi (yeast), or protozoa (Trichomonas). Natural cervical cell changes (atrophic vaginitis) related to menopause can also cause an abnormal Pap test. In some cases, untreated cervical cell changes that cause abnormal Pap tests may progress to precancerous or cancerous changes.
why it is done?
Colposcopy is done to:
- Look at the cervix for problem areas when a Pap test was abnormal. If an area of abnormal tissue is found during colposcopy, a cervical biopsy or a biopsy from inside the opening of the cervix (endocervical canal) is usually done.
- Check a sore or other problem (such as genital warts) found on or around the vagina and cervix.
- Follow up abnormal areas seen on a previous colposcopy. Colposcopy can also be done to see if treatment for a problem worked.
- Look at the cervix for problem areas if an HPV test shows a high-risk type of HPV is present.
- how to prepare
- Tell your doctor if you:
- Are or might be pregnant. A blood or urine test may be done before the colposcopy to see whether you are pregnant. Colposcopy is safe during pregnancy. If a cervical biopsy is needed during a colposcopy, the chance of any harm to the pregnancy (such as miscarriage) is very small. But you may have more bleeding from the biopsy. A colposcopy may be repeated about 6 weeks after delivery.
- Are taking any medicines.
- Are allergic to any medicines.
- Have had bleeding problems or take blood thinners, such as aspirin or warfarin (Coumadin).
- Have been treated for a vaginal, cervical, or pelvic infection.
1. WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/cancer/cervical-cancer/colposcopy-and-cervical-biopsy