What is Cervical Cautery?
Cervical cautery is a method of treating problems associated with the cervix, most commonly post-coital bleeding (bleeding with sexual intercourse) with heat.
The treatment is generally performed to reduce vaginal discharge and bleeding from an ectropion on the cervix.
An ectropion or “erosion” is a normal occurrence when the delicate glandular (columnar) cells are exposed on the surface of the cervix. As the area heals a scab will form which will gradually heal leaving healthy tissue underneath.
When is Cervical Cautery needed?
As mentioned earlier, cervical cautery is a treatment primarily used for cervical ectropion but not every cervical ectropion requires this treatment. Recommendation may be given by doctors only if symptoms are bothersome.
If a woman is experiencing symptoms, such as pain or bleeding, a doctor may recommend cauterization.
While cauterization usually resolves the symptoms of cervical ectropion, a doctor may need to repeat the procedure if the symptoms return.
What should you know before undergoing Cervical Cautery?
No special case is identified of ineligible for Cervical Cautery. However, there will be testes before the procedure to check your conditions and you should always clearly communicate with your doctor to see if there is any restriction in taking the treatment.
What are the complications and side effects?
Some women do have a slight abdominal discomfort for a few hours. This is like a period pain. You may need to take a mild painkiller such as paracetamol.
Bleeding could occur from the cervix and may require a blood transfusion, a return to the operating room or other measures, such as vaginal packing, to control the bleeding
Bleeding is more common if you have been taking blood thinning drugs such as warfarin, aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix, Iscover, Coplavix), prasugrel (Effient), dipyridamole (Persantin or Asasantin), ticagrelor (Brilinta), ticlopidine (Tilodene), apixaban (Eliquis), dabigatran (Pradaxa), rivaroxaban (Xarelto) or complementary/alternative medicines, such as fish oil and turmeric.
There are risks and complications with this procedure. They include but are not limited to the following.
Common risks and complications include:
- Infections of the cervix can occur, may require antibiotics and further treatment
- Increased risk of wound infection, chest infection, heart and lung complications, and blood clot in the leg or lungs for people who are obese and/or smoke
Uncommon risks and complications include:
- Damage and narrowing of the cervix could occur which can cause painful periods and difficulty in labour
- Blood clot in the leg causing pain and swelling. In rare cases, part of the clot may break off and go to the lungs.
Rare risks and complications include:
- Small areas of the lung can collapse, increasing the risk of chest infection. This may need antibiotics and physiotherapy
- Heart attack or stroke could occur due to the strain on the heart
- Death as a result of this procedure is rare
It is important you understand the precautions and know the possible complication and side effects before having this Cervical Cautery. If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor or surgeon for more information.
How do I prepare for Cervical Cautery?
Some medications increase a person’s chances of bleeding and it may be recommended to discontinue them for a period of time, before the procedure is performed
Blood tests may be performed to determine if there is a bleeding tendency or any other medical conditions that prevents the person from undergoing the procedure
Inform the physician if you are allergic to any local anesthetics, lidocaine, etc.
Avoid application of any deodorant, or topical medicines on the area, prior to the procedure
It is advisable to quit smoking and the use of any nicotine based products, for a while, before the surgery
Consumption of alcoholic drinks must also be avoided for a period of time, as instructed
The patient must avoid eating or drinking at least 8 hours prior to the surgical procedure, depending on when the procedure is arranged
For persons suffering from diabetes, it is important that the blood sugar stays within the normal range; if not their diabetologist may have to control blood sugar by recommending insulin and/or a combination of oral medicines
A physician will request your consent.
It is very important to provide the following information to your healthcare provider. This enables your healthcare provider in assessing the risks for the surgical procedure and helps avoid unnecessary complications.
Provide a complete list of medications you are currently, taking to your physician. This information is useful for a variety of reasons. For example, it can help your healthcare provider prevent complications due to a drug interaction
If you are allergic to any specific medication or food items
If you are taking blood thinners, such as aspirin, warfarin, herbal supplements, or any other such medications
If you or your family members, have a history of bleeding disorders, or if there is a tendency to bleed more than normal
If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, chest pains, or have previously suffered from a heart attack
If you have ever been diagnosed with blood clots in your leg (deep vein thrombosis) or lung (embolism of lung)
If you have a history of frequent bone fractures (this may affect bone-healing, if bones are involved as part of your procedure)
A list of all previous surgical procedures you have undergone, like for example: Removal of appendix, gallbladder, or any other part, of your body; surgical repair of any body part, such as hernia repair, perforation of bowel wall, etc.
What happens during Cervical Cautery?
Cervical Cautery is usually done as a-day case procedure.
A preliminary vaginal examination is carried out. To prevent any discomfort a local anaesthetic is injected with a very fine needle directly into the cervix. A hot probe is applied to the cervix to destroy the abnormal area. A nurse will be with you throughout the procedure. Some women are very sensitive to even touch the cervix and may have this procedure done under general anaesthesia.
What happens after Cervical Cautery?
As the cervix heals, you will have a brown vaginal discharge and maybe some bleeding but this should be no heavier than a period. This can last from a few days up to 6 weeks.
After 10 to 14 days it is not uncommon to get a period type bleed and this is caused by healing as the treatment “scab” comes away from the cervix.
If the discharge lasts more than six weeks or starts to smell offensive or the bleeding is heavier than a period, contact the hospital as these symptoms might suggest infection.
If you have any questions or concerns, please consult with your doctor or surgeon for more information.
What should you do after Cervical Cautery?
- To reduce the risk of infection, please use sanitary towels or panty liners, not tampons until your next period. These should be changed regularly.
- Do not have sexual intercourse until a week after the bleeding has stopped, this is to allow healing to take place.
- No heavy lifting or physical exercise for at least one week, as this may cause bleeding to become heavier.
- You may be asked to use an antibiotic cream in the vagina – please use as directed.
- Avoid swimming until a week after all bleeding has stopped.
- While your cervix is healing, it is vulnerable to infection and damage. For this reason you are advised not to have sex for four weeks or until the discharge has stopped completely.
- You can carry out all your normal activities including work although it is advisable to avoid strenuous exercise for a couple of weeks.
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