Cervical biopsy

Cervical biopsy

Cervical biopsy

Alternative Names: Cervical punch biopsy, Colposcopy, Biopsy of the cervix

In a cervical biopsy, or colposcopy, tissue samples are taken from the opening of the womb (cervix) because some abnormality has been detected during a physical examination or PAP smear. The doctor uses a special microscope (colposcope) to examine the cervix, and then uses a syringe or small forceps to remove a tissue sample, which is analysed for cancerous cells. There is a slight risk of heavy bleeding after the biopsy. It is essential that women who have had abnormal PAP smears or biopsies have regular examinations and tests in order to significantly improve their chances of surviving cervical cancer.

What is it?
A cervical biopsy is a test where tissue samples are taken from the cervix (opening of the uterus/womb) and sent for analysis.

It can be done in a doctor’s rooms, a clinic, or a hospital and takes less than one hour.

Why is it done?
A biopsy of the cervix is usually done because some abnormality is suspected – often abnormalities have been found on:

  • Physical examination/pelvic examination
  • PAP smear

A biopsy is done to remove some tissue for further testing so that an accurate diagnosis can be made. Commonly, it is done to diagnose or exclude cancer of the cervix.

What happens?

Before – how to prepare
You should avoid sexual intercourse for 24 hours before the test. No other special preparations are required although you will be more comfortable if you empty your bowel and bladder immediately before the procedure.

During – how the test is done
You will need to lie on your back, probably with your feet in “the stirrups”, as for a pelvic examination or PAP smear. The doctor will insert a speculum (a device that holds the vagina open so the doctor can see the cervix) into your vagina. A colposcope (essentially just a magnifying lens or microscope) is used to examine the cervix in detail and identify any abnormal or suspicious areas. The doctor will then remove a small tissue sample from such abnormal areas, using a syringe needle or small biopsy forceps.

There may be some discomfort (cramping and some pinching sensations as the biopsies are done) during this procedure but severe pain is very unusual. Relaxed, regular breathing can help quite a bit.

After the test
You will probably have some vaginal bleeding and will want to wear a pad for a few days. You should not use tampons or have sexual intercourse for a week after the test. Any excessive bleeding should be reported to your doctor.

Risks and Compilations
There is a slight risk of heavy bleeding and an even smaller risk of infection.

Special Issues
It is important that any woman, who has had an abnormal PAP smear or biopsy, attends regular follow-up appointments where repeated examinations, PAP smears, and biopsies are done if needed. The key is to realise that, as with so many cancers, early diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer improves outlook significantly.

Short Description
In a cervical biopsy, or colposcopy, tissue samples are taken from the opening of the womb (cervix) because some abnormality has been detected during a physical examination or PAP smear.

Keywords
cervical biopsy, colposcopy, cervical punch biopsy, biopsy of the cervix



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