Cervical abnormalities: CIN3 and CGIN

Cone biopsy

A cone biopsy involves removing a slightly larger part of the cervix than with a LLETZ biopsy. With a LLETZ, the cells at the edges of the specimen are not always seen as clearly through a microscope as those taken by a cone biopsy.

A cone biopsy is usually done under a general anaesthetic, though very small cone biopsies can be performed under local anaesthetic. A vaginal pack is sometimes put in place in the operating theatre while the woman is under anaesthetic. This is like a long bandage that puts pressure on the biopsy site and so helps to stop any bleeding, a bit like putting pressure on a cut to stop it bleeding. Some women feel a deep ache and / or tenderness in their pelvis after surgery so it can help to have painkillers at home. Many women feel tired for a few days or even a week or so after having general anaesthetic.

Some of the women we interviewed were told at colposcopy that they would need to have a cone biopsy. Several found waiting for the appointment difficult and worrying. A few women were worried that they might have cervical cancer.

For some, the thought of having a general anaesthetic caused anxiety and several looked for more information.

Several women described what happened on the day of treatment. Although some were worried beforehand, most said it went well and they felt fine when they came round. Marjory, who’d been treated by cone biopsy over twenty years ago, remembers little about her treatment.

Many women feel tired for a few days or even a week or so after having a general anaesthetic (see ‘Healing after a LLETZ or cone biopsy’ for women’s experiences of their recovery).

A few women who had small cone biopsies had them under a local anaesthetic. Two would have liked more information because they didn’t know they’d had a cone biopsy until they received their results letter. Gillian also found the procedure painful.

Women were pleased to hear that their results showed the abnormal cells had all been removed. One woman, though, felt unsure whether this was the case or whether she’d need more treatment at her first follow-up appointment.

Many women felt that the emotional side of having CIN / CGIN and a cone biopsy was more difficult than the physical (see ‘Emotional effects’).

More experiences of cone biopsy can be found on our - Cervical Screening site.

Last reviewed July 2017.
Last updated July 2017.

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