A cervical biopsy is a diagnostic procedure to detect and evaluate cervical cancer (cancer of the cervix called cervical cancer). It involves removal of tissue from the cervix to test for abnormal or precancerous changes, or cervical cancer.
Cervix is the lower, narrowed part of the uterus in women. It forms a canal that opens into the vagina.
Abnormalities can include the presence of the human papillomavirus (HPV) viruses, cells that are precancerous (called pre-cancers).
There are several ways in which cervical biopsies can be done depending on the way tissue is removed from the cervix to detect cervical cancer. The following are commonly used types of cervical biopsies:
In this method, small pieces of target tissue are taken from the cervix with a small instrument. This device is called “biopsy forceps.” The doctor may apply a dye on the cervix to make it easier for your doctor to see the abnormalities.
Cone biopsy is a surgery that uses a scalpel or laser to remove large, cone-shaped pieces of tissue from the cervix. A general anesthesia will be given before doing the procedure.
During ECC procedure, cells are extracted from the endocervical canal. It is the area between your uterus and vagina. This is an area that can’t be seen from the outside of your cervix. Therefore, the doctor will use a hand-held instrument called a “curette” to scrape the sample.
Some complications that may occur in a cervical biopsy are:
You should tell your doctor about:
These things can make a cervical biopsy less accurate. Cervical biopsies should be avoided in these situations:
Try to schedule your cervical biopsy for the week after the periods. This will help your doctor get a clean sample of the scraped tissue.
You may be asked to stop taking medications that could increase the risk of bleeding. Some of them are:
Other things that you may be asked for before the biopsy procedure are:
The procedure for cervical biopsy goes like this.
The doctor will do a normal pelvic exam. You’ll be asked to lie down on an exam table with your feet attached to stirrups.
Your doctor will give you a local anesthetic to numb the area. In some types of biopsies such as a cone biopsy, you’ll be given a general anesthetic so that will you fall asleep.
Your doctor will then insert a speculum into the vagina to keep the vaginal canal open wide during the procedure for better access and visualization.
The team there will first clean the cervix with a solution of vinegar and water. This process may cause a bit of burn, but it is not very painful. He or she may apply iodine on the location if a Schiller’s test is being done to identify any abnormal tissues.
The doctor will remove the abnormal tissues with forceps, a scalpel, or a curette.
After the biopsy is done, the doctor may pack your cervix with some type of absorbent material to reduce the amount of bleeding. If a cone biopsy is done, the doctor may pack the cervix with a pressure dressing. Your will be told how to remove this packing when you are back home.
Bleeding from the biopsy site may be controlled with a paste-like topical medicine that can be applied on the vaginal canal or cervix. The doctor may also use electrocauterization or stitches (sutures) to stop the bleeding.
Not every biopsy requires these steps. Some are much simpler and quick.
In most cases, cervical biopsy is not a painful procedure. Your doctor might ask to take acetaminophen or another pain reliever on the day of the procedure.
In some types of biopsies such as a cone biopsy, you will be given anesthesia to make you asleep.
A cervical biopsy will cause mild discomfort to you but is usually not painful. You may feel some pressure or cramping as the procedure is done.
You might experience some bleeding after the procedure. You should follow the recommendations of your doctor as discussed herein.
Your recovery will depend on the type of biopsy you had and the type of anesthesia you were given. Punch biopsies are outpatient procedures. You can go home right after the surgery. Other procedures such as cone biopsy may require you to remain in the hospital for night.
You will be asked to not lift weights or do any strenuous activity for a few weeks after the test.
The scar's will completely go away one or two years after the biopsy. Try not to do activities that might stretch the skin. Stretching of the skin may cause bleeding or worsen the scar.
Healing of the wound can take several weeks, but is usually done within 10 weeks.
You can discuss the results of your biopsy with your doctor. A negative test means that everything is all right, and no further action is required. A positive test indicates that the cancer or precancerous cells have been found and you need a treatment of either preventing of the cancer to develop or of the cancer.
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