As already outlined, during a smear test the doctor detects cell abnormalities just like a gardener collects dead leaves from the base of a tree and examines them for abnormalities.
If we continue this analogy, a biopsy involves the gardener climbing the tree and removing a piece from a branch in order to analyze any abnormalities or illness that affects that branch.
In practice, once the colposcopy is performed, the doctor decides, according to the appearance of the lesions, to perform a biopsy. This entails taking a sample (a small piece) of the mucous membrane (the skin that lines the cervix) with a biopsy forceps that measures only a few millimeters.
In general, biopsies are not generally painful procedures; however they may lead to light bleeding for a number of hours, thus requiring the application of a protective pad.
The tissue samples are placed in a preserving vial which “fixes” the “tissue” whilst it is sent for analysis to a histopathology laboratory. Results are generally returned within 7 days and patients may then require a further consultation with the doctor in order to clarify the results and where necessary decide upon an appropriate treatment plan.