Cone biopsy due to cell changes

Most changes in cervical cells are detected by family doctors at the regular checkups. In about 5% of the smear tests taken, abnormal cell changes are found. Cell changes range from atypical cells to cells with dysplasia, which in rare cases can be the early stages of cancer. 

If the smear shows atypical cells or mild dysplasia, Aagaard Gynækologisk Klinik can perform a keyhole examination (colposcopy) and take samples of tissue from the cervix.  

If the sample of cervical tissue confirms that you have moderate or severe dysplasia, we advise you to have the affected areas removed. This can be done in a procedure called cone biopsy.

A cone biopsy is a small procedure, but usually you’ll have a general anaesthetic. In some cases, we can perform it with a local anaesthetic only. What happens is that we remove a small cone of your cervix where the keyhole examination (colposcopy) spotted some cell changes. This cone is then sent for further analysis at the Aarhus University Department of Histopathology.

Recommended vaccination against HPV Infection (Human Papilloma Virtus)

Any woman who’s sexually active risks being infected with HPV. The infection is so common that you might call it a sexually transmitted cold. Often an HPV infection will show no symptoms at all. But chronic HPV infection can cause severe changes in the cervix, which may in some cases develop into cervical cancer. Even if you’ve been diagnosed with cell changes and had treatment, it’s still recommended that you have the vaccination, as there are a number of different types of HPV.

Before the operation

A cone biopsy is a small procedure, which means you can go home 1-2 hours later. But because there may be some side-effects of the anaesthetic, you must have somebody to come and pick you up at the clinic and stay with you for the next 24 hours.   

Before the procedure, it’s important that you tell the specialist about any drugs or medicine you take, because some of them may be dangerous in combination with the anaesthetic.


  • You are not allowed to eat anything during the last 6 hours before your operation 
  • You are allowed to drink water and juice until 2 hours before your operation
The operation

We’ll put an IV line in the back of your hand and give you the anaesthetic through it. The operation is performed via the vagina and takes 10-15 minutes. We use a loop of fine wire to remove a small cone of tissue from your cervix. The tissue is sent to the Aarhus University Department of Histopathology for further analysis, to make sure all areas with cell changes have been removed.

After the operation

You should take it easy for the rest of the day after the operation. The next day, our nurse will call you at home to check that you’re OK.

Post-operative checkup

14 days after the operation, we will contact you by phone/email/letter regarding your test results.

If all cell changes have been removed, we recommend that you have a smear 3 months later. If this smear shows no abnormal cells, you should have a smear again at your family doctor 6 months and then 12 months later.  After that, a smear once a year for the next 10 years is sufficient. About 95% have no cell changes after the cone biopsy.

Good to know

Bleeding: It’s a small surgical procedure, but during the healing process you may experience a bit of bleeding or brownish discharge for 1-3 weeks after the procedure.

Pain: You should expect some period-like pain. The pain will usually lessen after a couple of hours. You’ll get some pain-killers to take home when you leave the clinic.

Hygiene: To avoid infection, you shouldn’t use tampons until the bleeding has stopped. Take showers only, and don’t go swimming for 4 weeks after the operation.

Activity and sex: You shouldn’t do any hard physical labour and exercise for the first 8-10 days after your operation. Other than that, you can do the things you normally do from the day after the operation. Don’t have sexual intercourse until you’ve stopped bleeding.

Side-effects & complications

In very rare cases, there may be complications after the procedure. If you experience strong pain, a fever or any bleeding heavier than an ordinary period, you must contact the clinic at +45 8612 6121 or +45 2320 4221.