Large Loop Excision of the Transformation Zone
Large Loop Excision of the Transformation Zone (LLETZ) refers to a minor gynaecological procedure where a portion of the cervix, which often has abnormal pre-cancerous cells, is removed under anaesthesia. The transformation zone is an area on the cervix where the cells change from the columnar cells of the cervical canal and endometrium to squamous cells which cover the cervix and line the vagina.
The majority of these abnormal cells will be caused by persistent HPV infection and will be picked up during a cervical screening test. They are referred to as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia or CIN and graded according to the degree of abnormality. It is important to know that these cells are not cancerous but if left untreated, can progress to a type of cervix cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.
The aim of the LLETZ is to remove all of the abnormal area and to preserve as much normal cervical tissue as possible. After you have a LLETZ, the tissue which is removed will be reviewed by a pathologist to confirm that the abnormal cells have been adequately removed and that there were no unexpected findings. If all the CIN has been treated, you will need to have follow-up smear tests to prove it has been cured before returning to a normal screening interval.