A cervical biopsy is a procedure to remove tissue from the cervix to test for abnormal or precancerous conditions, or cervical cancer.
The cervix is the lower, narrow part of the uterus. It forms a canal that opens into the vagina.
Cervical biopsies can be done in several ways. The biopsy can remove a sample of tissue for testing. It can also be used to completely take out abnormal tissue. It can also treat cells that may turn into cancer.
Types of cervical biopsies include:
A cervical biopsy may be done when abnormalities are found during a pelvic exam. It may also be done if abnormal cells are found during a Pap test. A positive test for human papillomavirus (HPV) may also call for cervical biopsy. HPV is a type of sexually transmitted infection. Certain types of HPV can cause cervical cancer and other less common types of genital cancers. A cervical biopsy is often done as part of a colposcopy. This is also called a colposcopy-guided cervical biopsy. A colposcopy uses an instrument with a special lens to look at the cervical tissues.
A cervical biopsy may be done to find cancer or precancer cells on the cervix. Cells that appear to be abnormal, but are not yet cancerous, are called precancerous. These abnormal cells may be the first sign of cancer that may develop years later.
A cervical biopsy may also be used to diagnose and help treat these conditions:
Your healthcare provider may have other reasons to recommend a cervical biopsy.
Some possible complications may include:
In addition, cone biopsies may increase the risk for infertility and miscarriage. This is because of the changes and scarring in the cervix that may happen from the procedure.
Tell your healthcare provider if:
If possible, a cervical biopsy will be scheduled about 1 week after your period.
You may have risks depending on your specific health condition. Be sure to talk with your provider about any concerns you have before the procedure.
Certain things can make a cervical biopsy less accurate. These include:
You may have a cervical biopsy in a healthcare provider’s office, as an outpatient, or during a hospital stay. Some biopsy procedures only need local anesthesia. Other need regional or general anesthesia. The way the test is done may vary depending on your condition and your healthcare provider's practices.
Generally, a cervical biopsy follows this process:
Your recovery will depend on the type of biopsy done and if you had anesthesia.
If you have regional or general anesthesia, you will be taken to the recovery room to be watched. Once your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing are stable and you are alert, you will be taken to your hospital room or discharged to your home. If you had the procedure done as an outpatient, you should plan to have someone drive you home.
After a simple biopsy, you may rest for a few minutes after the procedure before going home.
You may want to wear a sanitary pad for bleeding. It is normal to have some mild cramping, spotting, and dark or black-colored discharge for several days. The dark discharge is from the medicine put on your cervix to control bleeding.
Take a pain reliever for cramping as recommended by your healthcare provider. Aspirin or certain other pain medicines may increase the chance of bleeding. Be sure to take only recommended medicines.
You may be told not to douche, use tampons, or have sex for 1 week after a biopsy, or for a period advised by your healthcare provider.
After a cone biopsy, you should not put anything into your vagina until your cervix has healed. This may take several weeks. You may also have other limits on your activity, including no heavy lifting.
You may go back to your normal diet unless your healthcare provider tells you otherwise.
Your healthcare provider will tell you when to return for further treatment or care. Generally, women who have had a cervical biopsy will need more frequent Pap tests.
Tell your healthcare provider if you have any of the following:
Your healthcare provider may give you other instructions after the procedure, depending on your situation.