Colposcopy is an office procedure used to evaluate abnormal Pap smears. In this procedure, a microscope, or colposcope, is used to visualize the cervix and identify precancerous cells.
To begin the procedure, a speculum is placed in the vagina, in the same way it is done for collecting a Pap smear. The cervix is swabbed with a large Q tip containing acetic acid, a vinegar solution. The acetic acid stains the abnormal areas on the cervix so they can be easily identified. Your doctor will use a green filtered light on the colposcope to look at the cervix. Cervical biopsies may be taken from the abnormal areas to confirm how abnormal the precancerous cells are. The biopsy is done with a long instrument that pinches off a small amount of tissue. This process may cause some cramping.
After the procedure, you can expect some mild cramping, light bleeding, or vaginal discharge for the next few days. The results of the biopsy are usually ready in a few days. They will be discussed with you and a follow up plan will be made.