MoonDragon's Women's Health Procedures Information
For "Informational Use Only".
For more detailed information, contact your health care provider
about options that may be available for your specific situation.
Cervical Biopsy Description Reasons For Cervical Biopsy Cervical Biopsy Risk Factors Cervical Biopsy Expected Outcome Cervical Biopsy Complications Cervical Biopsy Pre-Procedure Considerations Cervical Biopsy Procedure Description Cervical Biopsy Post Procedure Care Medication Activity Recommendations & Restrictions Diet & Nutrition Notify Your Health Care Provider
CERVICAL BIOPSY DESCRIPTION
A cervical biopsy is the removal of tissue from the cervix, the lower third of the uterus to be analyzed for cellular abnormalities, precancerous conditions, or cervical cancer. The cervix is a canal from the uterus into the vagina, which leads to the outside of the woman's body.
TYPES OF CERVICAL BIOPSIES
There are several types of cervical biopsies. In addition to removing tissue for testing, some of these procedures may be used to completely remove areas of abnormal tissue and may also be used for treatment of precancerous lesions.
Types of cervical biopsies include:
- Punch Biopsy: A surgical procedure to remove a small piece of tissue from the cervix. One or more punch biopsies may be performed on different areas of the cervix.
- Cone Biopsy or Conization: A surgical procedure that uses a laser or scalpel to remove a large cone-shaped piece of tissue from the cervix.
- Endocervical Curettage (ECC): A surgical procedure in which a narrow instrument called a curette is used to scrape the lining of the endocervical canal, an area that cannot be seen from the outside of the cervix.
Other related procedures that may be used to help diagnose and treat abnormal or cancerous cervical cells include loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP), colposcopy, and Pap test.
MoonDragon's Womens Health Procedures Information: Colposcopy
MoonDragon's Womens Health Procedures Information: Pap Test.
REASONS FOR CERVICAL BIOPSY PROCEDURE
Investigation of diseases of the cervix. Laboratory examination of the removed tissue aids in diagnosis.
May be done for exploratory purposes for conditions such as infertility.
A cervical biopsy may be performed when cervical abnormalities are found during a pelvic examination, or abnormal cells are found during a Pap test. A cervical biopsy is often performed as part of a colposcopy procedure, also called a colposcopy-guided cervical biopsy. A colposcopy is a procedure that uses a colposcope, an instrument with a special lens to magnify the cervical tissues.
A cervical biopsy may be performed to detect cancer of the cervix or precancerous lesions of the cervix. Cells that appear to be abnormal, but are not cancerous at the present time, are identified as precancerous. The appearance of these abnormal cells may be the first evidence of cancer that may develop years later.
MoonDragon's Womens Health Disorders Information: Cervical Dysplasia
MoonDragon's Womens Health Disorders Information: Cervical Cancer
A cervical biopsy may also be used to diagnose and assist in the treatment of the following conditions:
- Polyps (benign growths) on the cervix.
MoonDragon's Womens Health Disorders Information: Cervical Polyps.
- Genital warts, which may indicate infection with human papilloma virus (HPV), a risk factor for developing cervical cancer.
MoonDragon's Womens Health STD Disorders Information: Genital Warts.
- Diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure in women whose mothers took DES during pregnancy, as DES exposure increases the risk for cancer of the reproductive system.
There may be other reasons for your health care provider to recommend a cervical biopsy.
MoonDragon's Womens Health Prodcedures Information: Cervix Abnormalities.
CERVICAL BIOPSY RISK FACTORS
These risk factors may increase the chances of complications associated with a cervical biopsy procedure.
Previous bleeding disorders. Use of drugs such as anticoagulants or aspirin. Latex allergies. Pregnancy.
CERVICAL BIOPSY EXPECTED OUTCOME
Tissue obtained successfully without complications in virtually all cases.
CERVICAL BIOPSY POTENTIAL COMPLICATIONS
As with any surgical procedure, complications may occur. Some possible complications may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Excessive bleeding
- Surgical-wound infection.
In addition, cone biopsies may increase the risk for infertility (the inability to become pregnant) and miscarriage because of the changes and scarring in the cervix that may occur as a result of the procedure.
Patients who are allergic to or sensitive to medications, iodine, or latex should notify their health care provider.
If you are pregnant or suspect that you may be pregnant, you should notify your health care provider. Some types of cervical biopsies can be done during pregnancy, while others cannot.
If possible, a cervical biopsy will be scheduled approximately one week after your menstrual period.
There may be other complication risks depending upon your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your health care provider prior to the procedure.
Certain factors or conditions may interfere with a cervical biopsy. These factors include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Acute pelvic inflammatory disease. See Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
- Acute inflammation of the cervix. See Cervicitis.
CERVICAL BIOPSY PRE-PROCEDURE CONSIDERATIONS
Before you have a cervical biopsy, your health care provider will explain the procedure to you and offer you the opportunity to ask any questions that you might have about the procedure. You will be asked to sign a consent form that gives your permission to do the procedure. Read the form carefully and ask questions if something is not clear.
Generally, no prior preparation, such as fasting or sedation, is required for a simple cervical biopsy. If your biopsy requires regional or general anesthesia, you may need to fast for a certain number of hours before the procedure, generally after midnight.
If you are pregnant or suspect that you are pregnant, you should notify your health care provider.
Notify your health care provider if you are sensitive to or are allergic to any medications, latex, tape, iodine, and anesthetic agents (local and general).
Notify your health care provider of all medications (prescribed and over-the-counter) and herbal supplements that you are taking.
Notify your health care provider if you have a history of bleeding disorders or if you are taking any anticoagulant (blood-thinning) medications, aspirin, or other medications that affect blood clotting. It may be necessary for you to stop these medications prior to the procedure.
You should not use tampons, vaginal creams or medications, douche, or have sexual relations for 24 to 48 hours before the procedure. These activities can cause inaccurate results.
Your health care provider may recommend that you take a pain reliever 30 minutes before the procedure, or you may be given a sedative before the anesthesia is started. You will need someone to drive you home afterwards.
You may want to bring a sanitary napkin to wear home after the procedure.
Based upon your medical condition, your health care provider may request other specific preparation.
DESCRIPTION OF CERVICAL BIOPSY PROCEDURE
Most biopsies are performed under local anesthesia in the health care provider's office. A speculum is inserted into the vagina to hold it open and to bring the cervix into view. A second instrument is used to gather the tissue. The instruments are removed.
A cervical biopsy may be performed in a health care provider's office, on an outpatient basis, or as part of your stay in a hospital. Some biopsy procedures only require local anesthesia, while others require a regional or general anesthesia. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your health care provider's practices.
Generally, a cervical biopsy follows this process:
1. You will be asked to undress completely or from the waist down and put on a hospital gown.
2. You will be instructed to empty your bladder prior to the procedure.
3. You will lie on an examination table, with your feet and legs supported as for a pelvic examination.
4. Your health care provider will insert an instrument called a speculum into your vagina to spread the walls of the vagina apart to expose the cervix.
5. Often, the health care provider will use a colposcope, an instrument with a special lens similar to a microscope, to magnify the cervical tissues. The colposcope will be placed at the opening of your vagina but does not enter your vagina.
6. Your health care provider will look through the colposcope to locate any problem areas on the cervix or in the vagina. Photographs with the colposcope or sketches of the areas on your cervix may be made for your healthcare record.
7. Your cervix may be cleansed and soaked with a vinegar solution, also called an acetic acid solution. This solution helps make the abnormal tissues turn white and become more visible. You may feel a mild burning sensation. An iodine solution may be used to coat the cervix, called the Schiller test.
8. The type of biopsy performed will be determined by the size, shape, location, and other characteristics of the abnormalities.
9. The health care provider may numb the area using a small needle to inject medication.
10. A type of forceps called a tenaculum may be used to hold the cervix steady for the biopsy. You may feel some cramping when the tenaculum is applied.
11. The amount and location of tissue removed depends on the type of biopsy. For a simple cervical biopsy, sometimes called a punch biopsy, one or more small samples of tissue will be removed using a special type of forceps. When this is performed, you may feel a slight pinch or cramp. Cells from the inside of the cervical canal may be sampled with a special instrument called an endocervical curette. This may also cause some cramping.
12. For a cone biopsy, in which a larger cone-shaped piece of tissue is removed from the cervix, the loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) or the cold knife cone biopsy procedure may be used. With the cold knife cone biopsy, a laser or a surgical scalpel may be used to remove tissue. This procedure requires the use of regional or general anesthesia.
13. Bleeding from the biopsy site may be treated with a paste-like topical medication. Electrocauterization (use of a probe with high frequency electrical signals to stop bleeding) or sutures may be used in some cases.
14. After a cone biopsy, the cervix may be packed with a pressure dressing. Your health care provider will instruct you on removal of this packing.
15. The tissue will be sent to a lab for examination.
CERVICAL BIOPSY RESULTS
Results from a cervical biopsy normally come back within two weeks. Results will come back as normal or abnormal. Abnormal results can indicate low grade dysplasia (mild) to high grade dysplasia (moderate to severe) or cervical cancer.
CERVICAL BIOPSY POST PROCEDURE CARE
The recovery process will vary depending upon the type of biopsy performed and if anesthesia was administered.
If you received regional or general anesthesia, you will be taken to the recovery room for observation. Once your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing are stable and you are alert, you will be taken to your hospital room or discharged to your home. If this procedure was performed on an outpatient basis, you should plan to have another person drive you home.
After a simple biopsy, you may rest for a few minutes after the procedure before going home.
AT HOME POST PROCEDURE CARE
Wear cotton panties or pantyhose with a cotton crotch. Avoid panties made of nylon, polyester, silk, or other non-ventilating materials.
Use a sanitary pad for bleeding to protect your clothing. Avoid tampons - they may lead to infection. It is normal to have some mild cramping, spotting, and dark or black-colored discharge for several days. The dark discharge is from the medication applied to your cervix to control bleeding.
Take a pain reliever for cramping as recommended by your health care provider. Aspirin or certain other pain medications may increase the chance of bleeding. Be sure to take only recommended medications.
Bathe or shower as usual.
Do not douche unless it is prescribed for you. Do not use tampons or sexual relations for up to two weeks after a biopsy, depending on the circumstances.
Vaginal creams to relieve discomfort may be prescribed. You may use non-prescription medication, such as acetaminophen, for minor pain.
ACTIVITY RECOMMENDATIONS & RESTRICTIONS
Resume driving 24 hours after recovering from surgery.
Resume sexual relations one to two weeks after surgery, if you wish. Consult with your health care provider about your particular situation and when you can resume sexual relations.
Do not use tampons for one to two weeks after the biopsy procedure, or the period of time recommended by your health care provider.
After a cone biopsy, you should not insert anything into your vagina until your cervix has healed, which may take several weeks. You may also have other restrictions on your activity, including heavy lifting.
DIET & NUTRITION
No special diet. However, you should continue to follow a well-balanced, nutritious dietary plan for a strong immune system and fast recovery from surgery.
MoonDragon's Nutrition Information: Adult Regular Diet
MoonDragon's Nutrition Information, Guidelines, Dietary Recommendations
NOTIFY YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER
Your health care provider will advise you on when to return for further treatment or care. Generally, women who have had a cervical biopsy will need more frequent Pap tests. Your health care provider may give you additional or alternate instructions after the procedure, depending on your particular situation. You have any of the following occurs:
You develop signs of infection: headache, muscle aches, dizziness or a general ill feeling and fever and/or chills. Vaginal discharge increases or begins to have an unpleasant odor. You experience discomfort that simple pain medication does not relieve quickly. Severe lower abdominal pain. Unusual vaginal swelling or bleeding develops. New, unexplained symptoms develop, such as nausea or vomiting.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your health care provider or midwife. Please consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
These are links to other Web sites with information about this procedure and related health conditions. We hope you find these sites helpful, but please remember we do not control or endorse the information presented on these Web sites, nor do these sites endorse the information contained here.
American Cancer Society
American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists
American Society for Colposcopy & Cervical Pathology
National Cancer Institute
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
National Library of Medicine
National Women's Health Information Center
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