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What Happens During a LEEP Procedure for Cervical Dysplasia?

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Updated February 03, 2014

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What Happens During a LEEP Procedure for Cervical Dysplasia?

In the LEEP procedure, an electrified wire is used to cut a conic section from the cervix. The LEEP procedure is used to treat cervical dysplasia - including certain types of cervical cancer.

Image © Elizabeth Boskey 2010
Question: What Happens During a LEEP Procedure for Cervical Dysplasia?
Answer:

LEEP stands for loop electrosurgical excision procedure, and it is one type of conization treatment for cervical dysplasia and cervical intraepithelial neoplasia -- the cellular changes that may be precursors to cervical cancer. LEEP procedures can also be used to treat some cervical cancers.

When performing a LEEP procedure, doctors use an electrified loop of wire to cut away a section of the cervix. The steps of performing a LEEP procedure are basically as follows:

  1. The doctor inserts a special speculum designed to hold the vaginal tissue well away from the cervix and let out any heat and smoke
  2. The cervix is numbed with an injection of anesthetic.
  3. The doctor chooses a loop of an appropriate size so that she can remove the cervical dysplasia in a single pass.
  4. Liquid is swabbed onto the cervix to moisten it.
  5. After turning on the electricity to the loop, the doctor uses the "hot" wire to remove the lesion, ideally in one smooth motion.
  6. Finally, a different electrode is used to cauterize any bleeding.

The LEEP procedure cuts out a cone shaped section of cervical tissue, with the goal of removing all cervical dysplasia so that only healthy cervical tissue remains. LEEP is considered by many doctors to be easier and faster to perform than other types of conization procedures, although it can not be used in all patients.

Sources:
Kim JH et al. (2009) "The role of loop electrosurgical excisional procedure in the management of adenocarcinoma in situ of the uterine cervix." Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 145(1):100-3.

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