Colposcopy and LLETZ
This page will provide you with information about a colposcopy examination and LLETZ procedure. For further details, please speak to your consultant.
What is a colposcopy examination and LLETZ procedure?
A colposcopy is a procedure used to examine the cells in the neck of your womb/cervix (see Figure 1). The procedure is often needed in order to identify the causes of unexplained bleeding, inflammation of the cervix or benign growths like polyps and cysts.
If your routine cervical screening (smear test) picks up any abnormalities with the cells in your cervix, a colposcopy is a safe and effective way of determining any problems.
If the colposcopy identifies cell abnormalities, a large loop excision of the transformation zone (LLETZ) treatment can also be performed at the same time.
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What are the alternatives to a colposcopy?
If a cervical screening has indicated the possibility of abnormal cells in your cervix, a colposcopy is the only effective way of identifying what the issue is and whether there are treatment options available.
Although cell changes do not always necessitate treatment, identifying and removing abnormal cells can help prevent cervical cancer developing.
What will happen during the procedure?
After gently inserting a speculum into your vagina to hold it open, your gynaecologist will use a colposcope – similar to a microscope or a pair of binoculars – to closely examine your cervix. The colposcope will be positioned outside of your vagina.
During the examination, your gynaecologist may also perform a biopsy, which requires removing small pieces of tissue from your cervix. The biopsies can then be analysed to make an accurate diagnosis.
If abnormal cells are detected, there may be the opportunity for immediate treatment with a LLETZ. This is a minor operation, which is also known as loop diathermy, loop cone, loop biopsy or loop excision.
This procedure involves removing part of your cervix where the abnormal cells are by using a thin wire loop that is heated with an electric current. This method can also be used for biopsies.
Alternative methods to treat abnormal cells include laser treatment, freezing (cryocautery) and using heat (cold coagulation).
A colposcopy usually takes 10 to 20 minutes. If LLETZ is required and part of your cervix needs to be removed, the procedure may last longer. Usually a local anaesthetic is used, but if a larger area needs to be treated you may need a general anaesthetic.
Risks and complications
Any risks or complications will be discussed in advance of your treatment with your expert consultant.
The healthcare team will inform you if anything was found during your examination and after the analysis of any biopsies.
If treatment is not carried out immediately, they will talk to you about any follow-ups that might be needed.
You should be able return home the same day as the procedure. Usually, you will be able to get back to work the day after.
EIDO Healthcare Limited - The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare.
The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.