During the Procedure
You will be asked to remove your undergarments, then you will lie on an examination table with your legs placed in stirrups. The procedure may last up to 30 minutes.
- Inspection: Your doctor will insert a speculum into your vagina, using only water for lubrication, because lubricating jelly may interfere with the laboratory analysis of any specimens obtained. The speculum will remain in place for the duration of the exam.
- Your doctor will inspect your vagina and cervix using a magnified lens. An assistant may insert a small amount of saline solution (salt water) into the vagina to moisten the surface. The saline may feel cool.
- Immediately following the inspection, an acetic acid preparation will be applied to your cervix. The acid also may feel cool but will not burn. The doctor then will reinspect your vagina and cervix and will decide whether to perform a biopsy (take a tissue sample).
- Special stains may be required to see certain areas in the cervix. The most common stain is an iodine solution, which may feel cool but will not hurt.
- Biopsy: If any abnormalities appear, the doctor will take a biopsy. You may feel a pinch and some discomfort for several seconds. The examiner also may perform an endocervical curettage—a gentle scraping of the cervical canal that may cause a cramping sensation. Any specimens obtained from these procedures then will be sent to a lab for examination under a microscope.
Scott H Plantz, MD, FAAEM
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
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