What You Should Know About LEEP

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Bethann Rebane, RN, OCN
University of Pennsylvania Medical Center
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

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Your physician has found through your regular gynecological examination, pap smear, and colposcopy abnormal changes in your cervix, that need further treatment. It has been suggested to you that you receive a treatment known as the Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure. In preparing for this procedure, it is important that you have enough information to fully understand why this needs to be done and how it is done.

The LEEP procedure is being performed by many physicians and is one of several available treatment options for precancerous changes in the cervix.

A Women's Reproductive System

The uterus is the muscular organ located in the pelvis. It is broad at the top and narrow at the bottom. At each side of the upper part, a fallopian tube leads outward toward an ovary. The ovaries contain many eggs, or ova, and normally release one during each menstrual cycle. The tubes carry a fertilized egg from the ovaries to the uterus. The lower end of the uterus, called the cervix, is a narrow channel with a small opening. It opens into the vagina.

The Examination and Its Findings

When visiting the gynecologist for you routine exam, the physician removes cells (pap smear) from the surface of your cervix. The cells are placed on a glass slide that is later looked at under a microscope. From the pap smear, it can be determined if there are any abnormal cells present in the cervix.

If your pap smear shows abnormal cells, then you will be asked to have a colposcopy. This simply means the doctor will look at your cervix with a bright light and magnifying glass. The instrument the doctor uses is called a colposcope (col-po-scope). If the doctor sees any abnormal areas on your cervix, he/she will do a biopsy. A biopsy is a removal of a tiny piece of tissue from your cervix. The tissue is sent to a laboratory to be read. This is done to help identify the reason for the abnormal cells. when the results of the biopsy are reviewed, it is determined if further treatment is necessary.

The goal of treatment is to remove all abnormal cells.

LEEP

The loop electrosurgical excision is used to help diagnose and treat cervical and vulvar abnormalities. With the use of a specially designed wire loop and a low level of electricity, the tissue is removed or excised from the effected area and is made available for assessment in the laboratory.

There is no special preparation before this procedure. There is very little bleeding or blood loss during the procedure. Since this is an office based procedure, you will be able to leave the office just as if you have come to the physician for a regular office visit.

Loop electrosurgery is felt to be a highly effective and well accepted office based treatment option in the cure of cervical lesions.

Post Procedure

You may have some vaginal bleeding for a short period after the procedure is performed. Cramping may also occur, but should also subside. You may have some clear vaginal drainage for up to two weeks after the procedure.

Refrain from sex or the use of tampons or douche for a period of time determined by your physician. Avoid heavy lifting and do not resume a normal exercise program, also as specified by your physician.

You will need to reschedule a follow up appointment with your doctor. If you have any questions or any problems arise, do not hesitate to call your physician's office.


News
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May 6, 2010 - A new white paper -- "What is the Role of HPV Typing in the United States Now and in the Next Five Years in a Vaccinated Population?" -- provides guidance to clinicians about the administration of advanced screening technologies for cervical cancer prevention. The paper was published online April 24 in Gynecologic Oncology.



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