Colposcopy and LLETZ

This page will provide you with information about a Colposcopy and LLETZ. For further details, you should speak to your consultant.

What is Colposcopy and LLETZ?

A colposcopy is a common procedure used to examine the cells in your cervix (neck of your womb, see figure 1).  This could be to identify the causes of unexplained bleeding, inflammation or benign growths like polyps and cysts. If a routine cervical screening (smear test) suggests that there are any problems with your cells, a colposcopy is a safe and effective way of diagnosing any problems. For some women, a large loop excision of the transformation zone (LLETZ) treatment can be performed at the same time.

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What are the alternatives?

If a cervical screening has indicated that you may have abnormal cells in your cervix, a colposcopy is only effective method of identifying exactly what the type or abnormality is and how serious it could be. For example, the presence of abnormal cells could be an indication of a risk of developing cervical cancer. However, abnormal cells do not always signify this.

What is involved in the procedure?

A gynaecologist will examine your cervix using a colposcope, which can be similar to a microscope or pair of binoculars. The colposcope remains outside of your vagina but allows an examination of the cells on a screen. Your gynaecologist can also perform biopsies (removing small pieces of tissue) that can be analysed to help make an accurate diagnosis. If abnormal cells are detected, the decision can be made to treat the problem immediately with a LLETZ. This is a minor and common operation, also known as loop diathermy, loop cone, loop biopsy or loop excision. This procedure involves removing part of your cervix where the abnormal cells are using a thin wire loop that is heated with an electric current. Alternative methods to treat abnormal cells include laser treatment, freezing (cryocautery) and using heat (cold coagulation). A colposcopy usually takes 10 to 20 minutes. If LLETZ is required and part of your cervix needs to be removed, the procedure may last longer and you may need a general anaesthetic.

What are the complications?

As with any medical procedure, there could be the possibility of complications. General issues include pain, infection, and bleeding. You should visit your GP if you experience any of these. Occasionally a colposcopy and LLETZ may not have completely removed all abnormal cells.

How soon will I recover?

The healthcare team will inform if anything was found during your examination. If treatment is not carried out immediately, they will discuss with you any follow-up that may be needed. You should be able to go home the same day as the procedure. Usually, you will be able to return to work and normal activities the day after. Regular exercise should improve your long-term health. Ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice before you start exercising.

ReferencesEIDO Healthcare Limited – The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare.

The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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