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Diagnostic tests | Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP)

 What is it like to have a Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP) to diagnose cervical cancer?


 What is a Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP) procedure like?

Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center has a complete explanation of the LEEP on the web. The Greater Carolinas Women's Center has a picture of the instrument used to perform a LEEP. Please also check our Web Resources section for more Internet sites with information on this procedure.

 Susan C., California, USA: I had a LEEP last summer (followed by surgery, chemotherapy and radiation for cervical cancer, stage 1b1). The purpose of the LEEP was to get a large, deep cervical biopsy in order to stage cancer discovered through colposcopy. LEEP is an acronym for Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure. The gynecologist uses a wire loop attached to an electric machine. The loop is pulled around the cervix, burning and extracting a large, deep piece of tissue. It's kind of like peeling an apple and taking a lot of the white part along with the red skin.

I had my LEEP done in the doctor's office with only local anesthesia, but I know that some people have this done under general anesthesia as an outpatient surgery. I hardly felt a thing through the procedure. The anesthesia used was lidocaine, which was injected into the cervix. The injection didn't hurt at all. The lidocaine made me feel like I was shaking, but I wasn't.

The doctor placed a grounding pad across my thigh in order to prevent me from getting an electric shock. (The pad was also attached to the LEEP machine.) The doctor took three large chunks with the LEEP. It took about ten minutes for the doctor to take the samples, and about fifteen more minutes for the bleeding to be adequately cauterized. Still, I bled for about four weeks following the LEEP. Also, I was told not to have sex for six weeks.

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 Karen L., Ontario, Canada: I was diagnosed with moderate dysplasia in 1996. You know, back then I was 22 and didn't think much of it at all, really. To me, it was abnormal cells, no big deal. Well, every three months, I visited the specialist for a check-up. Again, no big deal.

It wasn't getting any better, so in 2000 I had a LEEP done. I went to the same clinic and the entire procedure was over in 45 minutes. I don't really remember the details of the procedure, but I guess that's a good thing. ;~) Meaning, it couldn't have been too uncomfortable. I was told not to have baths or sexual intercourse for two months following the procedure.

I had three follow-up visits with the specialist, and now, am considered cured. No abnormal cells have returned. Now I can venture back to my family doctor for my annual pap tests.

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