Colposcopy (cont.)

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Carbon dioxide laser photoablation

This procedure, which is also known as CO2 laser, uses an invisible beam of infrared light. The laser actually vaporizes the abnormal area. Lidocaine, a local anesthetic, is given to numb the area prior to the laser treatment. A chemical is applied afterwards to prevent delayed bleeding. A substantial amount of clear vaginal discharge and spotting of blood can occur for a few weeks after the procedure. To improve healing, sexual intercourse and tampon use should be delayed for several weeks.

The complication rate of this procedure is very low, about 1%. The most common complications are narrowing (stenosis) of the cervical opening and delayed bleeding. Disadvantages of this treatment include that this procedure does not allow sampling of the abnormal area and is not satisfactory for treating cervical cancer. It is useful, however, for milder dysplasia. It is generally not considered safe for use during pregnancy.


Cryocautery is a relatively simple procedure that uses nitrous oxide to freeze the abnormal area. This technique, however, is not optimal for large areas or areas where abnormalities are already advanced or severe. After the procedure, patients can experience a significant watery vaginal discharge for several weeks. To improve healing, sexual intercourse is best avoided for several weeks.

Significant complications of this procedure are rare and occur in about 1% of patients. They include narrowing (stenosis) of the cervix and delayed bleeding. Cryocautery does not allow sampling of the abnormal area and is generally felt to be inappropriate for women with advanced cervical disease. Thus, this procedure is not satisfactory for treating cervical cancer, but is useful for milder dysplasia.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/13/2015

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