Examination of the vagina and cervix by means of an endoscope. Syn: cervicoscopy.
Colposcopy is used chiefly to identify areas of cervical dysplasia in women with abnormal Papanicoloau smears and as an aid in biopsy or excision procedures including cautery, cryotherapy, laser vaporization, and loop electrosurgical excision. The colposcope is a stationary instrument with self-contained lighting and magnification adjustable from 2× to 20× or higher. It is used in conjunction with a standard vaginal speculum to view the cervix, particularly the transformation zone, and the vaginal mucosa. A green filter enhances visualization of blood vessels and identification of abnormal (e.g., punctate, mosaic, or atypical) vascular patterns. Application of 5% acetic acid solution accentuates areas of increased cellular protein and increased nuclear density, which are likely to represent zones of squamous cell change. Lugol solution (iodine-potassium iodide), which stains only squamous epithelial cells that have a normal glycogen content, may also be applied to delineate abnormal squamous epithelium. Colposcopically directed cervical biopsy is the procedure of choice when a Papanicoloau smear shows high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions, koilocytosis, carcinoma in situ, or higher grade carcinomas. When smear results are ambiguous, current practice standards recommend DNA testing for HPV rather than colposcopy.
Reference: Stedman's Medical Dictionary