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Cone Biopsy

A cone biopsy is a quick outpatient surgery used to find and treat a problem in the cervix. Your health care provider may do a cone biopsy if 1 or more Pap tests and a colposcopy (microscope) exam showed abnormal cells on your cervix. A cone biopsy takes less than an hour, and you’ll be able to go home the same day. The most common type of cone biopsy is the loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP). A wire with electric current is used to take the biopsy.

Closeup of cross section of cervix showing loop-shaped instrument removing tissue from cervix.

Preparing for a cone biopsy

If you will be given general anesthesia, do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery. Follow your health care provider’s instructions. You’ll also need to have an adult friend or family member drive you home after the procedure. On the day of surgery, be sure to arrive at the hospital or surgery center in time to sign in and get ready for your procedure.

Your surgery

Here is what to expect during surgery:

  • You’ll be given anesthesia before your biopsy to keep you comfortable during surgery.

  • Your health care provider then puts a thin metal instrument (speculum) into the vagina to spread it open. This allows your health care provider to see the cervix.

  • Then a cone-shaped piece of tissue is removed from the cervix. The tissue is cut from the opening up into the canal. This may be done with a small knife or with a laser or with the LEEP wire.

  • A special cream may be put on your cervix to control bleeding. 

  • The tissue that is removed is then sent to the lab. The lab studies the tissue and makes sure the abnormal cells have been cut away. New tissue grows back in the cervix in 4 to 6 weeks.

Recovery from a cone biopsy

After the procedure, you may have:

  • A pink, liquid discharge

  • Mild cramps

  • A dark-colored discharge (from the cream used)

  • Do not use tampons, do not douche, and do not have sexual intercourse until your health care provider says it's OK. 

Call your health care provider if you have:

  • Heavy bleeding, or bleeding with clots

  • Fever over 100.4°F (38°C) or chills

  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge

 

 

Your health care provider will discuss the risks and possible complications of cone biopsy with you. These include:

  • Incomplete removal of abnormal tissue

  • Severe bleeding

  • Infection

  • Weakening or scarring of the cervix that could lead to preterm birth

 

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