Sometimes all of the abnormal cells cannot be seen during colposcopy because the cells go further up into the cervix. If this happens, the doctor or nurse will usually suggest that you have a minor operation called a cone biopsy. This is when a cone-shaped piece of tissue is removed from your cervix so that it can be examined under the microscope in the laboratory. You will be given a separate appointment to come back for your cone biopsy. You are usually admitted to hospital overnight. A general anaesthetic that puts you to sleep is usually given.
What happens after a cone biopsy?
After your cone biopsy, you may have some gauze packed into your vagina to help control any bleeding. Some women also have a catheter (a tube to drain urine) inserted into their bladder at the time of the operation. This is because the gauze can sometimes press on the bladder and stop it from emptying properly. The gauze and the catheter will be removed before you leave hospital. Most women notice a bloody discharge for up to four weeks after a cone biopsy. You should wear sanitary pads and not tampons. If you are worried that the bleeding is too heavy, if it becomes smelly, or if you develop abdominal pain, you should see your usual doctor.
After your cone biopsy you should rest for a few days. You should not have sex or do any heavy exercise for 4 to 6 weeks. If all of the abnormal cells are removed during your cone biopsy and there is no sign of any cancer, you do not usually need any more treatment. However, you will need to have regular cervical screening tests to make sure that no more abnormal cells develop.
Colposcopy Treatment and pregnancy
If you are pregnant, you should discuss this with the doctor or nurse before you have a colposcopy. Colposcopy can, however, be done safely in pregnancy. Treatments (if needed) are usually deferred until after having the baby – unless the abnormality is very severe and it is thought to be dangerous to wait until after the baby is born. Colposcopy in pregnancy does not affect the delivery of your child; nor does it affect future fertility.