A carbon dioxide (CO2) laser beam is used to:
Laser vaporization takes 10 to 15 minutes. The abnormal tissue is destroyed or removed, leaving normal tissue intact.
Carbon dioxide laser surgery can be done in your doctor's office, a clinic, or a hospital as an outpatient procedure (you do not have to spend the night in the hospital).
You will need to take off your clothes below the waist and drape a paper or cloth covering around your waist. You will then lie on your back on an examination table with your feet raised and supported by footrests (stirrups). Your doctor will insert an instrument with curved blades (speculum) into your vagina. The speculum gently spreads apart the vaginal walls, allowing the inside of the vagina and the cervix to be examined.
The procedure is usually done with a numbing medicine injected into the cervix (cervical block). If a cervical block is used, an oral pain medicine may be used along with the local anesthetic.
Most women are able to return to normal activity within 2 to 3 days after surgery. Recovery time will depend on how much was done during the procedure.
Call your doctor for any of these symptoms:
Carbon dioxide laser surgery is done when:
Carbon dioxide laser surgery is successful in destroying abnormal tissue in about 95% of cases when it is used to vaporize the tissue. When it is used to remove a wedge of abnormal tissue, it is successful in over 93% of cases.1
Carbon dioxide laser surgery is able to destroy or remove abnormal tissue that is too high in the cervix to be destroyed with cryosurgery.
A carbon dioxide laser can be used to perform a cone biopsy (conization) but is not used as frequently as other conization methods because:
If you have carbon dioxide laser surgery, you need regular follow-up Pap tests. You should have a Pap test in 6 months or as often as recommended by your doctor.2 After several Pap test results are normal, you and your doctor can decide how often to schedule future Pap tests.
- Addis IB, et al. (2007). Intraepithelial disease of the cervix, vagina, and vulva. In JS Berek, ed., Berek and Novak's Gynecology, 14th ed., pp. 561–596. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
- Health Canada (2005). It's your health: Screening for cervical cancer. Available online: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/iyh-vsv/diseases-maladies/cervical-uterus_e.html.
Last Revised: February 16, 2012
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