Colposcopy in Cincinnati, OH
If you’ve had an abnormal Pap test result, Crescent Women’s Medical Group, led by board-certified gynecologists (OB-GYN) Drs. Chandra Gravely and Cindy Hansel, provides state-of-the-art gynecologic care, including such procedures as colposcopy, for women living in the Cincinnati and Blue Ash areas of Ohio.
Abnormal Pap Follow-up Exam (Colposcopy)
What is Colposcopy?
Colposcopy is a procedure that employs a special microscope, or colposcope, to allow the physician to see inside the vagina and closely examine the cervix or opening to the uterus. The colposcope provides magnification so the doctor can better examine the outer portion of the cervix, somewhat similar to looking through a pair of binoculars. In some cases, a biopsy may be required, and a small tissue sample is taken for further study. If cancer of the cervix or a precancerous change of cells is detected early enough, it may be treated and the risk of further danger may be reduced. In the case of pre-cancerous conditions and early cancers of the cervix, it may be necessary to remove part of the cervix. The colposcopy procedure is also used to detect and assist in the treatment of the following conditions:
- Polyps (benign growths)
- Genital warts, which are typically caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
- Diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure in women whose mothers were given DES during pregnancy, as DES exposure increases the risk for cancer of the reproductive system
There may also be a slew of other reasons to recommend colposcopy, as it is an effective diagnostic and treatment option.
Why Would A Woman Need A Colposcopy?
Colposcopy is usually indicated when a woman experiences an abnormal Pap test result. Pap tests should regularly be performed to screen for cancer of the cervix and other women’s health problems. A colposcopy may also be indicated when, during a pelvic exam, the cervix, vagina or vulva, presents an abnormal appearance.
Preparing For Colposcopy
Our friendly staff will explain the procedure and give you the opportunity to ask any questions you might have. In most cases, no prior preparation, such as fasting or sedation, is required prior to the procedure; however, in cases where a biopsy must be performed, requiring regional or general anesthesia, you may be required to fast for a few hours prior to the procedure.
If you are pregnant or suspect that you may be pregnant, notify our team at once. Be sure to provide a list of all medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, that you may be taking, as well as any herbal supplements you use regularly. Also, notify our doctors if:
- You have a sensitivity or an allergy to any medications, latex, tape, iodine and anesthetic agents.
- You have a history of bleeding disorders, or if you are taking any blood-thinning medications, such as Coumadin, aspirin or other medications that affect blood clotting. You may be required to stop these medications prior to the procedure.
You will be advised to not use tampons, vaginal creams or medications, douches or have sexual relations for 24 hours prior to the test. You may take a pain reliever 30 minutes prior to the procedure, or you may be given a sedative before the anesthesia is started. If sedation is administered, you will need someone to drive you home after the procedure. You should also bring a sanitary napkin to wear home following the procedure.
Based upon your medical condition, you may require other specific preparations as recommended by our specialists.
The Colposcopy Procedure
The typical colposcopy procedure involves this process:
- You will be instructed to empty your bladder prior to the procedure.
- You may be asked to undress completely or from the waist down, and put on a hospital gown.
- You will lie on an examination table, with your feet and legs supported as for a pelvic examination.
- The physician will insert a speculum into your vagina to spread apart the vaginal walls and expose the cervix.
- The colposcope, an instrument that works like a microscope with a light on the end, will be placed at the opening of your vagina, however, it will not be inserted into your vagina.
- The doctor will look through the colposcope to identify any problem areas on the cervix or in the vagina. The colposcope may be used to take photographs for your medical record.
- Your cervix may be cleansed and soaked with a solution of acetic acid that causes any abnormal tissues to turn white and become more visible; this may cause a mild burning sensation. The cervix may also be coated with an iodine solution, which is called the Schiller test.
- Your physician may take a small tissue sample in order to perform a biopsy. In cases where a biopsy is required, the physician will first numb the area, however, you may still feel a slight pinch or cramp as the tissue is removed.
- A special instrument called an endocervical curette may be used to collect samples of cells from the inside of the cervical canal. This process may also cause mild pain or cramping.
- Any bleeding at the site of the tissue sample may be treated with a paste-like topical medication or a pressure dressing may be applied.
- The tissue sample will be sent to a laboratory for testing.
Following a colposcopy procedure, you may choose to rest for a short while before going home. If your colposcopy procedure includes a biopsy, the recovery process may vary, depending on the type of biopsy performed and the type of anesthesia used, if any.
You may want to wear a sanitary pad following the procedure. If a biopsy is performed, it is normal to experience some mild cramping, spotting, and dark or black-colored discharge for several days. The dark discharge is caused by the medication applied to your cervix to control bleeding.
If a biopsy is performed, you may be instructed to avoid douching, tampons and sexual intercourse for one week following the procedure, or for a period of time recommended by your doctor.
The doctor may recommend additional restrictions on your activity, such as avoiding strenuous activity or heavy lifting. You may resume your normal diet unless your physician advises you otherwise. For pain and cramping, your doctor will recommend or prescribe an effective pain reliever. Aspirin and other pain medications may increase your risk of bleeding, so be sure to take only medications that your doctor recommends.
Our doctor will advise you on when to return for further treatment or follow-up care. Generally, women who have had a cervical biopsy will need more frequent Pap tests.
It is important to inform your doctor right away if you experience any of the following:
- Foul-smelling discharge from your vagina
- Fever and/or chills
- Severe pelvic or lower abdominal pain beyond normal cramping
These signs may indicate an infection or some other complication and your doctor should see you immediately.
For the most advanced and compassionate gynecologic or obstetrical care available to women in the Cincinnati and Blue Ash areas of Ohio, contact our experts at Crescent Women’s Medical Group today. We provide the most cutting-edge diagnostic procedures, such as colposcopy and other essential procedures to treat women’s medical problems.