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A colposcopy is a procedure where the lining of the cervix (the neck of the womb) is closely examined. It is carried out by a colposcopist (a specially trained doctor or nurse) who uses a magnifying instrument called a colposcope to check the cells that line the cervix for abnormalities. 

When is a colposcopy performed?
A colposcopy is carried out when the results of a cervical screening test indicate that there are abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix. See Colposcopy - why it is used for more information about cervical screening. 

Modern colposcopy clinics are fitted with video equipment that allows the colposcopist to view the examination on a television monitor. The patient can also watch the procedure if they want to, which may help to reduce any nervousness and anxiety. 

After closer examination of the cervical cells, the colposcopist will be able to determine the extent of any cell abnormalities and whether any treatment is required. 

If the colposcopy confirms that there are cervical cell abnormalities, a biopsy may be carried out. This involves removing a small sample of tissue for closer examination and testing. 

The treatment of abnormal cervical cells is almost always 100% successful. Following treatment, it is unlikely that any cell changes will occur in the future.