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Procedure: Cone Biopsy

Description and Purpose

A cone biopsy, also known as a cervical biopsy or conization , is where a sample of cells is removed from the cervix for direct examination in the laboratory. The purposes of this procedure include:

  • To check cervical cells for cancer, especially when colposcopy and cervical biopsy do not provide adequate evidence to confirm or rule out the diagnosis.
  • As treatment, to remove abnormal cells.

Preparation and Procedure

Generally, blood and urine tests are performed 1 or 2 days before the surgery. As this procedure is performed under general anaesthesia it is required that one does not eat or drink for at least 8 hours beforehand.
While under general anaesthesia, the surgeon uses a scalpel to remove a cone-shaped tissue sample from the centre of the cylindrical cervix. The base of the cone is taken from the opening of the cervix; the middle and tip of the cone, from the cervical canal. The cut edges of the cervix are then sutured or cauterised.
If the procedure is being performed as treatment, laser or electrocautery techniques may be used instead and will not require sutures. The sample is then sent to the lab to be examined for abnormal cells that may indicate a precancerous or cancerous condition.

Possible complications of this procedure include possible heavy bleeding; rarely, perforation or infection of the uterus. Possible miscarriage from incompetent cervix ; possible infertility ; scar tissue may interfere with vaginal childbirth or menstrual flow (rare).

The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken from the following source(s):

1. The Yale University School of Medicine Patient's Guide to Medical Tests, Barry L. Zaret M.D., Senior Editor, published by Houghton Mifflin. Online:

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Contact Last modified: Oct 20 2004