VIA & Cryotherapy

Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA)


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Detecting and removing abnormal cervical cells can prevent cervical cancer

Visual inspection with acetic acid is an effective method for detecting abnormal cells in the cervix.

The procedure is simple. The health care provider simply swabs vinegar, i.e. acetic acid, on the cervix and looks for areas that change color. Normal cervical tissue remains unaffected by the acetic acid, but damaged tissue — such as that found in pre-cancerous or cancerous lesions — turns white. The provider can then remove the damaged tissue on the spot using cryotherapy or other techniques, or they can perform a biopsy for further follow-up.

What is VIA?

Visual inspection of the cervix using acetic acid means looking at the cervix with a naked eye to detect abnormalities after application of dilute (3- 5%) acetic acid.

The area that is abnormal turns white, which shows that it may have precancerous lesions. Since screening and treatment are done at the same visit, there is no need to wait for results and then return to the doctor/providers.

Receiving your results

We will contact you (by your preferred method), usually within 2 weeks of the procedure. The results you receive will be described as either:

  • Normal / negative
  • Unclear / insufficient / inadequate – meaning that the cells could not be viewed and we will need to take another sample in 3 months’ time
  • Abnormal / irregular – meaning that changes have been observed, either mild, moderate or severe

If your results are irregular or abnormal

Please don’t be frightened. Any change in the cells of the cervix usually happens very slowly, and may be cleared by the body’s immune system. Slight abnormalities are very common in women under 25. Abnormal cells are not cancerous, but could be an early warning sign which we need to keep an eye on.

We’ll send a full explanation of what the test results show and advise you on what to do next.

If your results show cell changes we may recommend that you have another smear test after a period of time, or suggest that you make an appointment for further investigation. Further investigation, such as a colposcopy, depends on the type of abnormality seen.

We understand that receiving test results can be worrying or confusing. Please do contact us at any time if you have questions or concerns.