What is Colposcopy?
- Colposcopy is the direct magnified inspection of the surface of a woman’s genital area, including the cervix, vagina, and vulva, using a light source and a binocular microscope.
- Doctors use the test to evaluate potentially cancerous areas, typically after a Pap smear has indicated the possibility of such a problem.
- Your doctor also may perform a biopsy (take a sample) of an abnormal area during the procedure.
- Colposcopy also can be used to detect inflammatory or infectious changes, harmless or cancerous growths, and traumatic injuries to the cervix, vagina, and vulva.
- Because the procedure is highly specialized, you should make sure that your doctor has performed many such examinations.
The procedure is relatively safe. Major risks include bleeding, infection, and pelvic or abdominal pain. Colposcopy during pregnancy may cause complications with the pregnancy, including early labor.
Although colposcopy greatly improves your doctor’s ability to sample diseased tissue, there always is a chance the physician may not be able to determine the problem nor be able to take biopsies from the appropriate area.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/10/2016
Scott H Plantz, MD, FAAEM
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD