Home » Women's healthcare » There are more reasons than ever to attend colposcopy appointments

Dr Natalie Grant

Gynaecologist and Colposcopist, Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital

Cervical screening and colposcopy are a powerful way to reduce cancer cases. Now a device that increases the accuracy of detection makes for easier treatment decisions.

Hearing that you have an abnormal cervical screening result (smear) is always worrying. It may mean being called into a clinic for a colposcopy, a test designed to detect changes to the cells of the entrance to the cervix.

“We know that a colposcopy appointment is an anxious time for patients, but don’t be deterred from taking up the appointment,” says Dr Natalie Grant, Gynaecologist and Colposcopist at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

Detection is better than ever

“With the best combination of the gynaecologist’s experience and new technology, our capacity for detection is better than ever. Attending could put your mind at rest or mean we can take action as fast as possible.”

Fortunately, the number of patients found to have high-grade disease changes in the cervical cells is falling, because of the introduction of vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV), some types of which can cause cancer. Changes to the NHS screening programme also mean that more abnormal cell changes are being detected earlier.

We know that a colposcopy appointment is an anxious time for patients, but don’t be deterred from taking up the appointment.

Technology brings reassurance

New technology, used together with the experience of clinicians, means more cases of high-grade disease are being picked up, so treatment can start sooner.

Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital is one of 13 centres across the UK that has equipped its colposcopy unit with Zilico’s ZedScan diagnostic system which provides a real time objective assessment of the cervical epithelial tissue.

It uses electrical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) to differentiate between normal and abnormal tissue on the cervix. When used during colposcopy it brings greater accuracy in detecting high-grade disease.

“It takes 12 readings all around the cervix opening and provides me with the results immediately, giving me a clear indication of the state of the cells, so I have more information on which to base my treatment decisions,” says Dr Grant.

Picking up greater number of cases

“It means we are now picking up 21% more cases of high-grade disease and it’s easier to decide whether to take a biopsy or remove the abnormal tissue immediately,” says Dr Grant.

“The scan only adds about three minutes to the consultation, it’s not painful for the patient and it’s reassuring for them to have a more accurate diagnosis.

“It’s comforting to me too, because it provides more information on which to back up my decisions. I believe it should be available in all colposcopy centres.”

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