Cone Biopsy can be used to treat abnormal cervical cells also known as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN). Sometimes a cone biopsy is used if the cells are higher up the cervix. A small, cone-shaped piece of cervix, which contains the abnormal cells, is removed. This is usually carried out under general anaesthetic.
Laura found the local anaesthetic the worst part of the cone biopsy.
And that was as a day case?
Kim had a cone biopsy because she had abnormal cervical cells which were graded CIN3 and CGIN.
Paula had a cone biopsy as a day patient which was very straightforward. She felt weak for a few...
Kim describes her cone biopsy under general anaesthetic and her recovery at home afterwards.
I was totally convinced that something horrible had gone wrong. You know they had found all kinds of horrible things, but, you know, I got the all clear, which was just a huge relief. Words can’t describe how relieved I was afterwards. It felt like a weight had been lifted. That I felt, just alive again, in a sense. Just, willing, all of a sudden, I was just like, you know, I have had this little brush, but now it is over and done with. Fantastic. So yes, I got the all clear. Had a check-up in April, about two months after the procedure, which was another colposcopy. This one was really quick. It lasted about five minutes. They didn’t take a smear or anything, because I am still healing, but they did paint the iodine and the ascetic acid and again there is no signs of any abnormalities returning, which is really good. But now, similar to the smear recall programme I have to go back every six months for two years for a further colposcopy. And then after that probably yearly, may be every couple of years. So although I have been given the all clear, they do keep an eye on you, which is really assuring actually. The chances of recurrence I think they said, one in ten, and that is with CGIN a slightly higher chance of the CGIN recurring. But hopefully not. If it does recur then apparently depending on where it is, I have still got enough viable cervix left so they can just do another cone biopsy and not have to do anything more invasive.
Describes her experience of a cone biopsy to treat abnormal cervical cells.
You're actually an in-patient so, because you have a general anaesthetic so you obviously have to prepare yourself to go in to hospital to stay overnight or I don't know how many nights now but for a couple of nights. It was, I mean it was very nice, the wards were very nice, the staff were very nice. They, at that time explained to me it was going to be a cone biopsy which meant that they, literally a cone shape from the cervix was going to be cut away.
But the actual procedure itself is relatively straight forward, you have a general anaesthetic, so you don't know anything that's going on. And I was, it was fine, I mean sort of they come and make sure you're okay, you're fit and healthy, in the theatre, you have a pre-med and you're sort of put onto this lovely euphoria which is sort of, you know what's going on but it's great because it's sort of, it's almost as if you're having a lovely sleep but you're quite, you sort of know what's happening. And you're taken to theatre and the next thing you do you wake up.
Her main fear was having a general anaesthetic for the first time.
I've never been in hospital before so I was absolutely terrified of it, I'll be perfectly frank with you, I was scared to death.
Why were you scared?
Scared of having a general anaesthetic. I'd hoped to be able to have this minor operation still conscious but of course it's apparently not possible I don't know why but it's not. That was my only fear, I had no fear of anything else just the anaesthetic. However it all went swimmingly, no problem at all. The cells were removed and the biopsy was non-malignant and I carried on having regular smear tests.
She believes it is important to overcome fear of an anaesthetic in order to have abnormal...
I've been anaesthetised a lot of times for certain things to do with my cervix quite a few times, I'm not too keen on it, I always get upset, to be knocked out. So my partner came down with me to the anaesthetist room, they wouldn't allow him in but it's worth it to get things done. It's easy to get the anaesthetist to knock you out than to find out you've got cancer, all they do really is just put a needle in the back of your arm and by the time you count to 7 you're out, before you know it you're round, it's worth taking the anaesthetic. Because the treatment I got you have to be knocked out because there's no way they could reach that area while I'm awake so it's not as bad. Some women get nervous to be knocked out because they've never had an operation before. I explained to this lady I said "It's alright, there will be a bit of discomfort when you come round but it's worth it."
The cone biopsy treatment was not as bad as she expected and after a couple of weeks she felt...
Once the pack was removed there was a little of discomfort, I bled a little bit, not a lot and I was fine, I felt a bit fragile I must admit but I think that was probably from the anaesthetic more than anything. I think by nature of the fact that it is quite a personal thing you tend to feel a little bit vulnerable and a little bit emotional, that you know you sort of soon get over that, and when I went home my husband and the children were there and I had a couple of visitors.
And I remember the vicar came to visit me which was very sweet but it was quite an embarrassing subject you know "How are you?" "I'm fine," please don't, I don't want to go there really with you, don't mention it, it's not the sort of thing you mention to your vicar. But, but it was okay, I mean it was, after a couple of days I was back to normal. I mean it was almost like then saying you know you shouldn't be hoovering, you shouldn't be doing things like that, not initially because obviously there's potential for bleeding so it was quite nice you take it easy really and let other people do things.
It's almost like having a baby to a certain extent afterwards. But after a couple of weeks I was back to normal. So it, to reassure people it wasn't as bad as what it sounds and when you say they're going to take this sort of cone away from your cervix you have all sorts of images of quite a lot, being quite mutilated but obviously you're not really.
She wasn't prepared for the pain she felt when the packing was removed from her vagina after her...
Also they didn't tell me that it would hurt and it was painful and it was. Because they, they sort of plug you up after it with this gauze and you have to lay flat, and then the sister comes round and it was like sort of pulling a rope out of me and it was really painful and nobody had warned me. So you know you sort of, I just had to go through it and nobody had warned me that it was going to be painful.
Describes what it was like having the packing removed from her vagina after her cone biopsy.
The nurse came round and said "Oh I'm just going to take your pack out," and I didn't have a clue what she was talking about. That means, it's like cotton wool but a large amount, they pack the cervix right back, that stops you from haemorrhaging which no one told me about. It took about, say about 5 minutes, 4 minutes, quite discomfort, but then after that was taken out they said "You've got to stay on the bed for an hour, you're not allowed to walk around, then we can tell if you're haemorrhaging inside or not." So I stayed in bed for an hour and they took my blood pressure every 15 minutes to make sure there's no pressure, bleeding.
How were you feeling at that point?
I felt alright, I felt alright. A bit sore when it came out but it felt alright so, they checked me again every 15 minutes, 15 minutes and then they said, the doctor approved me I could go home but no lifting or straining, nothing at all.
She developed a fever and had considerable pain the first week after her cone biopsy.
My GP, phoned my GP tell her "I'm in a lot of pain," she's quite a good GP, she came round three days on the trot said “I'd got a high fever now the pack is out, because it's the raw flesh now you feel the pain” so I was on some strong pain killers which helped, made me sick but it helped.
And how long did that pain last for?
About a week. I've still got the pains now, especially when you go to the toilet you get the pains but it's not as bad as the first 7 days.
Kim talks about her emotions about having sex again with her husband after a cone biopsy.
Women we interviewed said they did not experience any long term side effects from their cone biopsy. However, one woman had since had difficulty getting adequate cervical cells taken during her screening tests which she had been told was a side effect of her cone biopsy.
Since her cone biopsy, she has had difficulty getting enough cervical cells taken during her...
And I'm trying to think, I think that was fine and that's how it's been since until 2 years ago, went for a routine smear and then they had difficulty getting the cells. After 3 attempts with a period of sort of probably 2, over a period of about 6 months on the third attempt managed to get some actual cells from the cervix which showed they were fine so that was okay. Again last year went back for a routine smear but had the same difficulty they just couldn't get the cells. Then was sent to see a consultant who suggested that it was probably due to the cone biopsy I'd had several years ago, that it meant that the cervix was just not giving up the cells as it should do.
*Tucker, D. E. "Cervical Incompetence." Women's Health Information. Mar. 2004. 3 Jan. 2005;
Last reviewed October 2015.
Last updated October 2015.