Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure for abnormal pap smears.
The doctor called. She says I have precancerous cells on my cervix. I am so scared. What if it is cancer, and what is a LEEP procedure?
LEEP stands for Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure. It’s a treatment to prevent cancer after precancerous cells are identified during cervical cancer screening. Precancerous cells are caused by HPV, the human papillomavirus.
80% of Americans will contract HPV, making it the most common sexually transmitted infection. HPV causes genital warts, and persistent strains lead to cervical, vaginal, anal, throat, and neck cancer. Despite screening programs, 4,000 US women die from HPV related cervical cancer annually. A LEEP procedure saves lives.
A small wire loop is used to remove abnormal cells from your cervix. The thin wire loop is attached to an electrical current to cut away the top layer of cervical cells and remove the effects of HPV.
We detect HPV effects during routine paps smears, the first step in cervical cancer prevention. When someone has an abnormal pap smear, the next step is a diagnostic procedure called a colposcopy.
A colposcopy is an office procedure that allows your doctor to visualize the cervix more closely using a microscope. The colposcope identifies abnormal cervical tissue that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Areas of the cervix concerning for pre-cancer or cancer can then be biopsied (sampled) during the exam.
If the biopsy shows a precancerous lesion then, your healthcare provider may recommend a LEEP (loop electrosurgical excision procedure.)
Where is a LEEP Procedure performed?
A Loop electro excision procedure can be performed in a variety of settings. Most commonly, Obgyns perform this procedure in the office setting.
The office, surgery center, or hospital are all reasonable and appropriate surgical settings.
Can my family visit me?
Most LEEP procedures are performed in a medical office setting. A trusted family member should drive you to and from the appointment. If the procedure is done in a hospital or Ambulatory Surgery Center, your family is welcome to stay with you before and after the procedure.
Does my procedure require an anesthetic?
Anesthesia is required for a LEEP procedure. The type of anesthesia will vary depending on the surgical setting, the surgeon’s experience, and the availability of office equipment.
Oral sedation, paracervical block, IV sedation, and general anesthesia are all potential anesthetic options.
In the office setting, anesthesia is provided via a paracervical anesthetic. A paracervical block is an anesthetic technique done by a gynecologist to numb the uterus. Medication is injected into the cervical tissue to reduce pain during surgery. For a LEEP procedure, a medication called epinephrine is mixed with the anesthetic to reduce the risk of intraoperative bleeding.
Some gynecologists also recommend oral medication to reduce anxiety.