Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure
What is Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP)?
- Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) is a technique used in the treatment of mild to moderate precancerous changes (dysplasia) of the uterine cervix (cervical dysplasia). The cervix is the base of the womb (uterus) that leads out to the birth canal (vagina).
- LEEP can sometimes also be used to treat severe dysplasia or cancers that have not invaded into the deeper tissues of the cervix (known as carcinoma in situ).
- With the LEEP technique, a low voltage electric current is used to cut away the abnormal tissues. Unlike techniques that destroy the abnormal tissue (such as laser or freezing), the abnormal tissue is preserved after LEEP, allowing for microscopic examination by a pathologist.
- LEEP generally does not have significant risks or side effects, but mild pain, cramping, and vaginal bleeding can occur. LEEP is also sometimes referred to as large loop excision of the transformation zone (LLETZ).
LEEP is performed after the precancerous changes of the cervix have been identified through screening tests and cervical biopsies. Typically, findings on the screening Pap test will signal that further examination of the cervix is necessary. Colposcopy is the examination of the vulva, vaginal walls, and uterine cervix using illumination and magnification in order to detect and examine abnormalities of these structures. Colposcopy is performed to evaluate abnormal Pap test results. During colposcopy, further testing, including biopsies (sampling of abnormal-appearing areas for examination by a pathologist) are performed to determine whether cancer or precancerous changes are present.
If dysplasia confirmed through colposcopy and/or biopsies, treatment options, including LEEP, are considered.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/7/2016
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