A colposcopy is a simple procedure to look at the cervix, the lower part of the womb at the top of the vagina. It is often done if cervical screening finds abnormal cells in your cervix, or if you have a problem with your cervix.
These cells aren't harmful and often go away on their own, but sometimes there's a risk they could eventually turn into cervical cancer if not treated. A colposcopy can confirm whether cells in your cervix are abnormal and determine whether you need treatment to remove them.
More on what we do
A doctor or nurse will inspect your cervix with a magnifying light (colposcope), which views the cervix from a short distance. A fluid is dabbed onto the cervix, which makes precancerous changes show up more clearly. In many cases, a biopsy may be taken in order to help obtain an accurate diagnosis. A photograph if the cervix may also be taken for your health records.
The colposcopy will help to determine the degree of pre-cancerous change on your cervix: borderline, mild, moderate and severe. Borderline and mild abnormalities usually do not require treatment, but may require a biopsy. Moderate and severe abnormalities will require treatment which will be fully discussed with you.
Sometimes, women find that they have been referred for colposcopy when they are pregnant, but there is no evidence that the procedure is harmful in pregnancy.
If you require treatment to remove abnormal cells, we will inject the cervix with local anaesthetic to numb the affect area. The abnormality is the removed using a specially-designed electrical loop. The tissue will be sent to the laboratory to be analysed. You will be contacted with the results within four weeks.
The success of your treatment is usually checked by performing a follow-up screening test after six months. In most cases, this is done back at your GP surgery. If the test is abnormal in any way, you will be invited to the colposcopy clinic again for another check-up.
We have a number of very experienced staff who perform colposcopy, these include Consultants and Clinical Nurse Specialists who are assisted in clinic by both Registered Nurses and Health Care Assistants.
Mr Mike Hannemann is the Lead Colposcopist.
Where to find us
RD&E Wonford, Barrack Rd, Exeter EX2 5DW
Clinic 2, Level 1, Centre for Women’s Health, RD&E Wonford, Barrack Rd, Exeter EX2 5DW
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the colposcopy nurses on 01392 406503, or the colposcopy coordinator on 01392 406580.
Patient leaflets and documents
Our colposcopy clinics are run 5 days a week, from Monday to Friday, These are consultant and nurse-led clinics, with all clinicians fully trained in colposcopy assessment and treatment.
Most patients have treatment at the time of their clinic appointment but it can also be performed under general anaesthetic at a later date. This is something that will be discussed with you.