Colposcopy is an internal exploratory examination of the cervix. With a colposcope, the doctor looks if there are abnormal cells in the endometrium. This instrument works as a magnifying glass, allowing to look more accurately than with the naked eye. Colposcopy is a type of endoscopy.
Colposcopy is used in analyzing the condition of the mucosa of the vagina and the uterus. It helps to distinguish benign from malignant tumors. This allows an early detection of cancer, such as cervical cancer. A woman is eligible for colposcopy after an abnormal result of a pap test or in case of contact bleeding.
The colposcope is an instrument that looks a bit like a pair of binoculars. It's made up of an optical microscope and a lighting system. The device is sometimes connected to a monitor. The colposcope magnifies at least 10 to 20 times. This enables cervical anomalies to be detected, which cannot be seen with the naked eye.
The doctor opens the vagina with a speculum and then looks through the colposcope to the endometrium. To clarify the difference between healthy and sick tissue, the cervix can be touched with a highly diluted acetic acid or iodine solution. This can generate a somewhat stinging sensation. The doctor sees through the colposcope how the endometrium responds. If the endometrium is not responding well, a few small pieces of tissue are, if necessary, removed (biopsy) from the suspicious site. This may hurt. The removed pieces of tissue are then sent and microscopically examined.
The examination takes about 20 minutes. Afterwards, there may be a little bleeding. The gynaecologist generally explains during or after colposcopy how the cervix looks. The result of a biopsy is usually known within 2 weeks.