When you have atypical cells detected on your Pap smear we usually recommend proceeding with colposcopy. Colposcopy is a procedure where we look at the cervix under magnification to detect any abnormal appearing areas that produced those atypical cells. We use an instrument that looks like a pair of binoculars that provides us with better visualization. We start by cleaning off the cervix with a solution called acetic acid, which gives us a much better look at the cervix than with our naked eye. If we see an area that looks abnormal then we may take a small biopsy so that the pathologist may better diagnose what is going on. The biopsies are very small and generally cause very little discomfort. You may have spotting or light bleeding followed the biopsy, which will resolve in one or two days. We generally ask you to refrain from intercourse for a day or two following the procedure, but otherwise you can resume all normal activities once leaving the office. If you have heavy bleeding, increasing cramping or fevers following the biopsy, call us immediately.
If biopsies are taken you will hear from our office within 2-3 days and a follow up plan will be discussed which may be repeating the Pap smear in 6 months to one year or maybe follow up treatment now if the biopsy shows significant atypia such as LEEP or Cryosurgery. If everything appears normal on colposcopy then generally we recommend follow up Pap smear in one year. No matter the findings, your doctor will discuss your specific recommendations with you. If you have any questions, please ask them when we speak with you or call back if you think of them later. We want you to have a full understanding of what is going on.
For further information visit the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists web site reference Colposcopy.