In this diagram, the canal of the cervix (or endocervix) is circled at the base of the womb. The vaginal portion of the cervix projects free into the vagina. The transformation zone, at the opening of the cervix into the vagina, is the area where most abnormal cell changes occur
Colposcopy is a medical diagnostic procedure to examine an illuminated, magnified view of the cervix and the tissues of the vagina and vulva. Many premalignant lesions and malignant lesions in these areas have discernible characteristics which can be detected through the examination. It is done using a colposcope, which provides an enlarged view of the areas, allowing the colposcopist to visually distinguish normal from abnormal appearing tissue and take directed biopsies for further pathological examination. The main goal of colposcopy is to prevent cervical cancer by detecting precancerous lesions early and treating them. The procedure was developed in 1925 by the German physician Hans Hinselmann, with help from SS Dr. Eduard Wirths.
Most women undergo a colposcopic examination to further investigate a cytological abnormality on their pap smears. Other indications for a woman to have a colposcopy include :
assessment of diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure in utero,
immunosuppression such as HIV infection, or an organ transplant patient
an abnormal appearance of the cervix as noted by a primary care provider