The loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) is used when your Pap smear indicates the presence of abnormal cells on the surface of the cervix. This does not mean you have cancer, but treatment of the abnormal area is important to prevent the cells from developing into cervical cancer.
LEEP uses a thin wire loop electrode which is attached to an electrosurgical generator. The generator transmits a painless electrical current that quickly cuts away the affected cervical tissue in the immediate area of the loop wire. This causes the abnormal cells to rapidly heat and burst, and separates the tissue as the loop wire moves through the cervix.
This technique allows your physician to send the excised tissue to the lab for further evaluation which insures that the lesion was completely removed, as well as allowing for a more accurate assessment of the abnormal area.
You may want to take some over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen before arriving at your physician's office for the procedure. This will help minimize any pain during or following the procedure. Always follow your doctors instructions for preparation for the LEEP.
What happens during the LEEP procedure?
The LEEP procedure takes about 20-30 minutes and is usually performed in your physician's office. In some ways it may seem much like a normal pelvic exam because you will lie on the exam table with your feet in the stirrups. A colposcope will be used to guide your doctor to the abnormal area. Unlike a normal colposcopy, a tube will be attached to the speculum to remove the small amount of smoke caused by the procedure.
An electrosurgical dispersive pad will be placed on your thigh. The pad is a gel-covered adhesive electrode which provides a safe return path for the electrosurgical current. A single-use, disposable loop electrode will be attached to the generator hand piece by your physician. Your cervix will be prepared with acetic acid and iodine solutions that enable your physician to more easily see the extent of the abnormal area. Next a local anesthetic will be injected into the cervix; the electroloop will be generated and the wire loop will pass through the surface of your cervix.
After the lesion is removed your physician will use a ball electrode to stop any bleeding that occurs; he may also use a topical solution to prevent further bleeding. You can leave your physician's office soon after the procedure.
Are there any complications associated with the LEEP?
Complications are usually mild but can include:
After the LEEP you should not: