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Biopsy of Lesions of the Female Genital Tract in the Ambulatory Setting
William Paul Irvin, Jr.
Associate Professor, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Peyton T. Taylor, Jr
Richard N. & Louise R. Crockett Professor of Ohstetrics & Gynecology; Medical Director, Cancer Center. University of Virginia Health System P.O. Box 800712 Charlottesville VA 22908, USA
The organs of the female genital tract (vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes) are capable of elaborating an immense array of pathologic conditions. These conditions can be primarily infectious in nature, or they can be neoplastic, precancerous, or frankly cancerous. In most instances the patient's history and physical examination alone are insufficient to establish a diagnosis, given the extreme similarity in clinical presentation of the various abnormalities of the female genital tract and the subtle differences that distinguish one from the other. In order to definitively establish the diagnosis, it is often necessary to obtain a tissue sample. Most clinicians are intimidated at the prospect of performing a biopsy of the lower female genital tract given concerns for patient discomfort and bleeding, in conjunction with a lack of familiarity with the specific techniques and instruments available to perform these biopsies. Conditions may go undiagnosed, or there may be a significant delay in diagnosis, as a result. In fact, failure to biopsy and obtain an accurate diagnosis in a timely fashion is a major concern from the medicolegal perspective.
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