Many women receive a routine Pap test. But if your obstetrician-gynecologist (Ob/Gyn) calls and asks you to come back in for some further testing, it likely means there was something abnormal in your test. Your doctor may want to perform what's called a colposcopy to better examine your cervix (the opening of your uterus) and your vagina for disease, and possibly obtain a biopsy.
The procedure is essentially a pelvic exam that relies on an instrument called a colposcope, which has a magnifying lens and light, and is placed just outside your vaginal opening. If, during the colposcopy, your provider sees any tissue that looks abnormal (which could indicate precancerous changes), he or she will perform a biopsy, taking a small sample to send to a laboratory for further examination.
“A cervical biopsy, while typically small, provides detailed information about the tissue and any potential abnormalities,” explains Sangini S. Sheth, MD, MPH, a Yale Medicine Ob/Gyn who, with her colleagues, routinely performs this diagnostic procedure. She wants women to know that colposcopies are safe, not very uncomfortable, and a vital way to follow up on abnormal Pap screening tests.