A cervical biopsy is a surgical procedure in which a small amount of tissue is removed from the cervix. The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus located at the end of the vagina. A cervical biopsy is usually done after an abnormality has been found during a routine pelvic exam or Pap smear. Abnormalities can include the presence of the human papillomavirus (HPV), or cells that are precancerous. Certain types of HPV can put you at risk for developing cervical cancer.
A cervical biopsy can find precancerous cells and cervical cancer. Your doctor or gynecologist may also perform a cervical biopsy to diagnose or treat certain conditions, including genital warts or polyps (noncancerous growths) on the cervix.
To perform the biopsy, the doctor will insert a speculum (a medical instrument) into the vagina to keep the canal open during the procedure. The cervix is first washed with a solution of vinegar and water. This cleansing process may burn a bit, but it shouldn’t be painful. The cervix may also be swabbed with iodine. This is called Schiller’s test, and it’s used to help your doctor identify any abnormal tissues.
The doctor will remove the abnormal tissues with forceps, a scalpel, or a curette. You might feel a slight pinching sensation if the tissue is removed using forceps.
After the biopsy is finished, your doctor may pack your cervix with absorbent material to reduce the amount of bleeding you experience.