Colposcopy or a LEEP During Pregnancy

Christina S. Chu, MD
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
Is it safe to have a colposcopy or a LEEP (loop electrocautery excision procedure) while I am pregnant?

Christina S. Chu, MD, Assistant Professor of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, responds:

Colposcopy is a procedure that involves a close examination of the cervix and vagina using a special microscope. The procedure is very safe during pregnancy. If suspicious or concerning lesions are observed, small biopsies may be performed without risk to the pregnancy at the discretion of the physician. Alternatively, if lesions appear to be low grade, biopsies may be deferred until after delivery. An endocervical curettage should not be performed during pregnancy.

A LEEP, or loop electrocautery excision procedure, involves taking a larger piece of tissue from the cervix. This is rarely done during pregnancy. Most dysplastic lesions (lesions that are not invasive cancer) can be followed by colposcopic examinations every 2-3 months, with postponement of any surgical intervention until after delivery. Patients with invasive cancer should not undergo a LEEP, and should be evaluated by a gynecologic oncologist for individualized treatment options.