Definition, Preparation, Risks Involved In a Biopsy of Genital Warts

Submitted on March 27, 2012

What are Genital Warts?

Genital warts are an infection of the female reproductive tract, caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The infection is usually caused by sexual contact or less seldom by sharing swimming clothes or underwear. There are almost 70 types of this virus. Some types of HPV can lead to cervical cancer.

Like many viruses, HPV can infect a person for a long time before symptoms appear. These are usually white or flesh-colored small raised bumps, which appear on the skin on the lips of the vagina or around the anus. Sometimes they are large and fleshy like cauliflower lumps. Sometimes, they cause irritation if they brush against clothing, leading to tenderness or even bleeding.

When is it done?

  • Most of the time, genital warts can be easily identified and diagnosed by the doctor, who does a physical gynecology examination, using a colposcopy (a lighted magnifying instrument). If this is not possible, the doctor may ask you to do a biopsy of tissue to ascertain that it is genital warts and to confirm the presence of HPV.
  • In some cases a biopsy may be required if the warts have not responded to earlier treatment.
  • A doctor may also ask for a biopsy if the warts seem unusual and cancer or some other abnormal condition is suspected.

How is it done?

The biopsy can be done in the clinic or office of your doctor, especially if it is in the outer genital area, the penis, scrotum or vulva, depending on either women or men. You may be given an injection or local anesthetic to numb the pain. The doctor will then scrape off a small piece of tissue.

Risks Involved

There are usually no risks or complications involved, but the injection maybe a little painful.

What the results may show

  • The results may be normal which will indicate that no abnormal cells were found. This usually indicates that the HPV is not present.
  • The results may be abnormal. This indicates that cells called koilocytes were found. Koilocytes cells in the anal or genital areas are an indication of the presence of human papillomavirus (HPV). They are easily distinguishable since they appear as concave or hollow when seen through a microscope.
  • Sometimes, a biopsy may also show up other types of skin lesions.

Follow-up action

After a biopsy has been done and genital warts has been confirmed you need to take proper action.

  • You will need to start medical or surgical treatment depending upon your doctor’s advice. The abnormal tissue may have to be removed.
  • Avoid sexual intercourse until the biopsy area has healed completely.