Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) is used to remove abnormal tissues of the cervix with a low-voltage electrical current. Mostly, it is used to treat mild to moderate abnormal changes of the cells lining the cervix or pre-cancers which are confirmed with colposcopy and/or cervical biopsy.
In some cases, severe dysplasia and noninvasive cancers can be treated by LEEP. It is a simple and inexpensive procedure with minimal risks or side effects.
LEEP is highly effective in the removal of abnormal or precancerous tissues of the cervix as procedures like cold knife conization (surgical removal of the abnormal area), Cryotherapy, laser conization and laser ablation.
Further treatments are usually unnecessary and regular follow-up test is required to evaluate for possible recurrence of the cellular abnormalities.
During the procedure, the patient lies on her back on an examining table with the feet elevated in stirrups and a speculum which is also used for the Pap test is inserted to open the vaginal walls.
The area is numbed using a local anesthetic and oral on intravenous medications can be given to the patient to control pain. Sometimes iodine or acetic acid is applied to the cervix which makes the abnormal areas of tissue more recognizable.
Through thin wire, a low-voltage electrical current is passed through tissues to remove the abnormal areas of the cervix. At the end of a procedure, a chemical is applied to prevent bleeding.
For a few hours after the procedure, the patient can feel cramping and mild pain which can be relieved by oral medications. Also, a few weeks after the procedure vaginal discharge and spotting can occur so sexual intercourse and tampons should be avoided during this period.
Complications can include infection of the cervix or uterus, greater than expected amounts of bleeding and narrowing of the opening of the cervix but they are very rare and occur only in 1% to 2% women.