Colposcopy is a diagnostic procedure used to examine, under magnification, certain areas of the body and determine abnormalities. A vulvar colposcopy typically examines lesions on the vulva and is used to identify cancer or genital human papillomavirus, also called HPV.
The procedure is done with a colposcope, a microscope that can help identify malignant lesions on the vulva. It is usually performed as a follow-up to an abnormal Pap smear. The exam itself is similar to a Pap smear in that a speculum is inserted into the vagina so that the cervix is visible. The colposcope is situated so that the physician may view the area in question with a magnification of 10 to 40 times its normal size. If any abnormal cells are noticed, a biopsy of the tissue may be done.
A colposcopy is a safe procedure with few complications. Light bleeding or discharge for up to a week after the procedure is normal.
Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP)
Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) is used to treat abnormal cells found on the surface of the cervix. During the procedure, the abnormal cells are removed to prevent the development of cervical cancer.
Wire loops attached to an electrosurgical generator cut away the affected tissue, causing the cells to heat and burst. The tissue removed is sent to a lab for further evaluation, including ensuring that the abnormal area has been fully removed. An assessment as to the cause of the growth of abnormal tissue will also be done. The LEEP procedure takes 20-30 minutes and a local anesthetic is administered to minimize pain.