Colposcopy and Laser Ablation to Cervix

What is a colposcopy?

A colposcopy is a detailed examination of the cervix and vagina using a magnification camera (colposcope). Acetic acid solution is applied to the cervix to help identify abnormal changes in the cervix. A biopsy of the cervix may be taken to confirm the diagnosis of the abnormal cervical cells.

How is a colposcopy done?

To have a colposcopy test, your gynaecologist will ask you to lie on an examination bed with your legs supported, in a similar position to when you have a Cervical Screening Test. The gynaecologist will insert a speculum into your vagina and apply a special liquid onto your cervix to highlight any abnormal cells.

The gynaecologist will then look through the colposcope to carefully examine your cervix. The colposcope itself does not enter your body.

This examination usually takes 5 to 10 minutes and most people do not experience any pain. However, you may have some discomfort from having the speculum inside your vagina.

What is a biopsy?

If areas of your cervix appear abnormal during a colposcopy test, the gynaecologist may take a small sample of tissue to send to a laboratory for testing. This is a biopsy.

If you have a biopsy, you may have some discomfort for a short time. Avoid rigorous exercise for 24 hours after and it is best to avoid sexual intercourse for one to two days. You can shower, however avoid swimming, bathing and spas for one to two days.

These precautions reduce your risk of bleeding or infection. You may have some discharge and ‘spotting’ for a few hours afterwards, so it is a good idea to take a thin sanitary pad or panty liner to the appointment.

What treatments are available for high grade dysplasia (pre-cancerous cells) of cervix?

Treatment is recommended by a gynaecologist if high grade dysplasia (CIN 2-3) is confirmed on biopsy of cervix to avoid further progression to cancer. Options are laser ablation of the cervix or LLETZ (large loop excision of transformation zone).

In laser ablation to cervix, a carbon dioxide (CO2) laser beam is used to destroy (vaporize) abnormal cervical tissue that can be seen through a colposcope.

In LLETZ, a thin loop of wire that carries electrical current is used like a scalpel to cut the transformation zone of the cervix (where abnormal cells exist).

How is laser ablation of cervix or LLETZ performed?

Laser ablation of cervix and LLETZ are usually done under general anaesthetic as a day procedure in a hospital.

In laser ablation to cervix, a carbon dioxide (CO2) laser beam is used to destroy (vaporize) abnormal cervical tissue that can be seen through a colposcope.

In LLETZ, a thin loop of wire that carries electrical current is used like a scalpel to cut the transformation zone of the cervix (where abnormal cells exist).

What is the potential risk of complications in laser ablation to cervix or LLETZ?

Both procedures are commonly performed and safe. There are potential risks with any surgery, this includes:

  • bleeding
  • infection
  • damage to surrounding organs (vagina, bladder or bowel)

The risk of preterm birth is increased after 2 of these procedures, most women will only have one treatment.

After any form of treatment for abnormal cells you will experience a small amount of vaginal bleeding and brown discharge for up to a week. You should not swim, use tampons or have vaginal intercourse for six weeks until the cervix has healed. Strenuous exercise should be avoided for seven to ten days as this increases the risk of bleeding and infection.

colposcopy procedures Melbourne
Dr Kent Kuswanto

Main rooms located in Epworth Freemasons in East Melbourne. Also available for consults in Mercy Hospital for Women in Heidelberg, Epworth Eastern in Box Hill, and Women’s Health Hub in Werribee.