Colposcopy is a procedure that is specially performed to closely examine the patient’s cervix, vagina, and vulva for signs of any disorder by using a special instrument called a colposcope.
Colposcopy procedure is normally carried out if a Pap test/cervical screening reveals abnormal cells, normally caused by human papillomavirus (HPV)
These cells are not cancerous, but if left untreated, there is a chance that they could develop into cervical cancer in the future.
Colposcopy can therefore be used to diagnose the following conditions:
If the patient’s pap smear test reveals results that show abnormal cervical cells that are linked with human papillomavirus (HPV), a colposcopy will be recommended.
To prepare a colposcopy, the doctor will issue the following instructions that need to be followed by the patient prior to the procedure:
During the procedure
The procedure is often carried out in the hospital and typically takes 15 to 20 minutes. The patient should then be able to go home afterward.
Before the procedure, the patient may be asked to remove her clothes, behind a screen, from the waist down. She may be a sheet to cover herself. She will then be asked to lie down and put her legs on padded support.
The doctor will insert a speculum (a smooth, tube-shaped device) into the vagina to open it. The speculum is then used to look at the patient’s cervix. The colposcope does not go inside the patient’s genital area.
Some liquid will be applied to the patient’s cervix which will aid in identifying any abnormal cervical cells. A tiny tissue sample, about the size of a pinhead, will then be removed for testing (biopsy). The patient may feel a mild pinching or scratching sensation as the tissue is removed.
After the procedure, the patient can go home to rest. The patient may experience some mild pain, similar to period pain, for a few days. However, taking some painkillers like paracetamol can help relieve the pain.
She can also experience some vaginal bleeding and discharge. However, if she only had a colposcopy, bleeding and discharge may pass after a few hours.
Colposcopy is a low-risk procedure that is simple to perform. However like all medical procedured, on rare occasions there may be a complication. The most common risk is infection and bleeding.
The colposcopy procedure itself is farily quick and takes 5-10 minutes. If treatment is required then it may take slightly longer at 15-20 minutes.