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Procedure: Cervical Biopsy

Description and Purpose

A cervical or punch biopsy is used to evaluate abnormal cervical tissue found during a Pap smear or colposcopy . This involves the removal of a sample of tissue for study in a pathology laboratory.

Preparation and Procedure

The physician will try to schedule the biopsy about 1 week after a menstrual period . The doctor performs a colposcopic exam and then uses a small, scissors-like instrument called a punch to snip one or more tiny pieces of tissue (less than 5mm/") from the cervix. The specimen is then sent to the pathology lab for analysis.
Variations of this technique include Loop electrical excision of the transformation zone (LETZ; an electrocautery loop is used in place of the punch) and Endocervical curettage . In the latter, following a punch biopsy, the doctor may also take a sample of the tissue lining the endocervical canal (just past the opening of the cervix) but not in the uterus itself. This is a precaution against missing any abnormal tissue in this area, which cannot be fully seen with the colposcope.

Cramping is common after a cervical biopsy.

The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken from the following source(s):
1. The Yale University School of Medicine Patient's Guide to Medical Tests, Barry L. Zaret M.D., Senior Editor, published by Houghton Mifflin. Online:

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Contact Last modified: Oct 20 2004