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The skilled gynecologists at UT Southwestern Medical Center have the expertise to detect and diagnose gynecologic conditions before they become serious. We use the latest technology, such as colposcopy, to diagnose cervical cancer and other problems and provide personalized treatment.
Expertise in Colposcopy for Women’s Health
Colposcopy is a procedure that doctors use to diagnose several gynecological conditions. A colposcope is an instrument with a light and a microscope; doctors use it to examine the vagina and cervix for abnormal cells and other problems.
UT Southwestern’s gynecologists specialize in screening, preventive care, diagnosis, and treatment of a wide variety of women’s health issues. Our doctors and their teams are skilled in colposcopy, which can help detect precancerous cells on the cervix, vagina, or vulva and other abnormalities in early stages for the best chance at successful treatment.
Our experienced gynecologists often recommend a colposcopy for patients who have had abnormal Pap smear or pelvic exam results.
Diagnosis with Colposcopy
We perform colposcopies in our offices; the procedure is similar to a pelvic exam and provides doctors a magnified view of the cervix and the inside of the vagina.
During the colposcopy, if we see any areas of abnormal cells in the cervix or vagina, we will take a biopsy (small sample of tissue) from that area.
What to Expect from a Colposcopy
A colposcopy typically takes about 10 to 20 minutes and consists of several steps:
- The patient lies on her back on an examining table with her feet in supports, as during a pelvic exam or Pap smear.
- The doctor places a speculum in the vagina. The speculum holds open the walls of the vagina so that the doctor can see the cervix.
- The doctor places the colposcope near, but not touching, the opening of the vagina and looks through the lens into the vagina using a bright light.
- The cervix and vagina are swabbed with a vinegar or iodine solution to remove mucus and highlight abnormal areas. This solution might cause a burning or tingling sensation.
- If any abnormal tissue is seen, the doctor takes small samples. The biopsy usually causes mild discomfort, cramping, or pain like a pinch.
Patients might experience minor bleeding for up to a week after a biopsy. We typically recommend that our patients:
- Not use tampons for a week
- Not have sex for up to a week
- Use sanitary pads for bleeding
- Take over-the-counter pain medication as necessary
After the colposcopy, our doctors examine the tissue samples under a microscope to look for signs of disease. Based on the biopsy results, we decide whether further testing or treatment is needed.
As one of the nation’s top academic medical centers, UT Southwestern offers a number of clinical trials aimed at improving screening, diagnosis, and treatment of all types of conditions that affect women’s health.
Clinical trials often give patients access to leading-edge treatments that are not yet widely available. Eligible patients who choose to participate in one of UT Southwestern’s clinical trials might receive treatments years before they are available to the public.
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