What Is a Cervical Biopsy?
A cervical biopsy is a surgical
procedure in which a small amount of tissue is removed from the cervix.
The cervix is the
lower, narrow end of the uterus located at the end of the vagina.
cervical biopsy is usually done after an abnormality has been found during a
routine pelvic exam or Pap smear. Abnormalities can include the presence of the
papillomavirus (HPV), or cells that are precancerous. Certain types of HPV can
put you at risk for developing cervical cancer.
cervical biopsy can find precancerous cells and cervical cancer. Your doctor or
gynecologist may also perform a cervical biopsy to diagnose or treat certain
conditions, including genital warts or polyps (noncancerous growths) on the
Types of Cervical Biopsies
different methods are used to remove tissue from your cervix:
- Punch biopsy: In this method,
small pieces of tissue are taken from the cervix with an instrument called
“biopsy forceps.” Your cervix might be stained with a dye to make it easier for
your doctor to see any abnormalities.
- Cone biopsy: This surgery uses
a scalpel or laser to remove large, cone-shaped pieces of tissue from the
cervix. You’ll be given a general anesthetic that will put you to sleep.
- Endocervical curettage (ECC): During this
procedure, cells are removed from the endocervical canal (the area between the
uterus and vagina). This is done with a hand-held instrument called a
“curette.” It has a tip shaped like a small scoop or hook.
type of procedure used will depend on the reason for your biopsy and your medical
How to Prepare for a Cervical
your cervical biopsy for the week after your period. This will make it easier
for your doctor to get a clean sample. You should also make sure to discuss any
medication you take with your doctor.
may be asked to stop taking medications that could increase your risk of
bleeding, such as:
using tampons, douches, or medicated vaginal creams for at least 24 hours
before your biopsy. You should also avoid having sexual intercourse during this
you’re undergoing a cone biopsy or another type of cervical biopsy that
requires a general anesthetic, you’ll need to stop eating at least eight hours
before the procedure.
the day of your appointment, your doctor might suggest you take acetaminophen
(such as Tylenol) or another pain reliever before you come to their office. You
may experience some light bleeding after the procedure, so you should pack some
feminine pads. It’s also a good idea to bring a family member or friend along
so they can to drive you home, especially if you’re given general anesthesia. General
anesthesia may make you drowsy after the procedure, so you shouldn’t drive
until the effects have worn off.
What to Expect During a Cervical
appointment will begin as a normal pelvic exam. You’ll lie down on an exam
table with your feet in stirrups. Then your doctor will give you a local
anesthetic to numb the area. If you’re undergoing a cone biopsy, you’ll be
given a general anesthetic that will put you to sleep.
doctor will then insert a speculum (a medical instrument) into the vagina to
keep the canal open during the procedure. The cervix is first washed with a
solution of vinegar and water. This cleansing process may burn a bit, but it
shouldn’t be painful. The cervix may also be swabbed with iodine. This is
called a Schiller test, and
it’s used to help your doctor identify any abnormal tissues.
doctor will remove the abnormal tissues with forceps, a scalpel, or a curette.
You might feel a slight pinching sensation if the tissue is removed using
the biopsy is finished, your doctor may pack your cervix with absorbent
material to reduce the amount of bleeding you experience. Not every biopsy
Recovering from a Cervical
biopsies are outpatient procedures, which means you can go home right after the
surgery. Other procedures may require you to remain in the hospital overnight.
some mild cramping and spotting as you recover from your cervical biopsy. You
may experience cramping and bleeding for as long as a week. Depending on the
type of biopsy you’ve undergone, certain activities may be restricted. Heavy
lifting, sexual intercourse, and the use of tampons and douches are not allowed
for several weeks after a cone biopsy. You may have to follow the same
restrictions after a punch biopsy and ECC procedure, but for only one week.
your doctor know if you:
- feel pain
- develop a fever
- experience heavy bleeding
- have foul-smelling vaginal discharge
symptoms can be signs of an infection.
Results of a Cervical
doctor will contact you about your biopsy results and discuss next steps with
you. A negative test means that everything is normal, and further action is
usually not required. A positive test means that cancer or precancerous cells
have been found and treatment may be needed.