What are the risks and potential complications of a cone biopsy?  

As with all surgeries, a cone biopsy involves risks and complications. Complications may become serious and life threatening in some cases. Complications can develop during surgery, recovery or later. 

General risks of surgery 

The general risks of surgery include: 

  • Anesthesia reaction, such as an allergic reaction and problems with breathing 
  • Bleeding, which can lead to shock
  • Blood clot, in particular a deep vein thrombosis that develops in the leg or pelvis. A blood clot can travel to your lungs, heart or brain and cause a pulmonary embolism, heart attack, or stroke.
  • Infection and septicemia, which is the spread of a local infection to the blood

Potential complications of a cone biopsy

Complications of a cone biopsy can be serious and include: 

  • Bleeding
  • Increased risk of miscarriage and preterm birth in future pregnancies  
  • Infection
  • Infertility due to narrowing of the cervix
  • Recurrence of abnormal cervical cells requiring repeat surgery
  • Tissue injury
  • Vaginal tear

Reducing your risk of complications

You can reduce the risk of certain complications by following your treatment plan and: 

  • Following activity, dietary and lifestyle restrictions and recommendations before your procedure and during recovery
  • Informing your doctor if you are nursing or if there is any possibility that you may be pregnant
  • Notifying your doctor immediately of any concerns, such as bleeding, fever, or increase in pain
  • Taking your medications exactly as directed 
  • Telling all members of your care team if you have allergies

How do I prepare for my cone biopsy?

You are an important member of your own healthcare team. The steps you take before surgery can improve your comfort and outcome. You can prepare for a cone biopsy by:

  • Answering all questions about your medical history, allergies, and medications. This includes prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, herbal treatments, and vitamins. It is a good idea to carry a current list of your medical conditions, medications, and allergies at all times.
  • Getting preoperative testing as directed. Testing will vary depending on your age, health, and specific procedure. Preoperative testing may include a chest X-ray, EKG (electrocardiogram), blood tests, and other tests as needed.
  • Losing excess weight before the surgery through a healthy diet and exercise plan
  • Not eating or drinking before surgery as directed. Your surgery may be cancelled if you eat or drink too close to the start of your surgery because you can choke on stomach contents during anesthesia.
  • Stopping smoking as soon as possible. Even quitting for just a few days can be beneficial and help the healing process.
  • Taking or stopping medications exactly as directed. For a cone biopsy, this may include not taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and blood thinners. Your doctor will give you instructions for taking your specific medications and supplements.

Questions to ask your doctor

Facing surgery can be stressful. It is common for patients to forget some of their questions during a doctor’s office visit. You may also think of other questions after your appointment. Contact your doctor with concerns and questions before surgery. 

It is also a good idea to bring a list of questions to your preoperative appointments. Questions can include:

  • Why do I need a cone biopsy? Are there any other options for diagnosing or treating my condition?
  • How long will the surgery take? When can I go home?
  • What restrictions will I have after the procedure? When can I return to work and other activities?
  • What kind of assistance will I need at home?
  • What medications will I need before and after the surgery? 
  • How will you treat my pain?
  • When should I follow up with you? 
  • How should I contact you? Ask for numbers to call during and after regular hours.

What can I expect after my cone biopsy?

Knowing what to expect can help make your road to recovery after a cone biopsy as smooth as possible. 

How long will it take to recover?

You will stay in the recovery room after surgery until you are alert, breathing effectively, and your vital signs are stable. You may have a sore throat if a tube was placed in your windpipe during surgery. This is usually temporary, but tell your care team if you are uncomfortable.