What Is High Grade Dysplasia?

What Does a HGSIL Pap Smear Result Mean?

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A high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion, or HGSIL for short, is a medical term given to a category of cervical dysplasia detected through a routine Pap smear. Cervical dysplasia is the development of abnormal cells in the cervix, the narrow neck of a woman's uterus.

So What Does It Mean Exactly When I Get an HGSIL Pap Smear Result?

An HGSIL Pap smear result indicates that more defined changes in the size and shape of cervical cells have been detected, which—as mentioned above—indicates moderate to severe cervical dysplasia.

HGSIL is not cervical cancer yet when left untreated and unmonitored, it can lead to cervical cancer.

How Will My Doctor Confirm the HGSIL Pap Smear Result?

If Pap smear results come back as HGSIL, a colposcopy exam is then done to confirm the findings. A colposcopy exam is an in-office procedure that allows a doctor to visually examine the cervix with a lighted instrument called a colposcope. During the exam, the colposcope remains outside of the vagina. It acts like a microscope, allowing an in-depth view of the cervix.

During the colposcopy, the doctor may also do a cervical biopsy, a procedure that removes small pieces of cervical tissue. The tissue samples are then sent to a lab for further examination.

How Can I Treat HGSIL?

If cervical biopsy results confirm HGSIL, treatment to remove abnormal cervical tissue is necessary in order to prevent the possibility of cervical cancer in the future.

Possible treatments for HGSIL include:

  • Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP) - During a LEEP, an electric current is sent through a wire loop. The wire loops act as a knife removing abnormal cervical cells.
  • Cryotherapy - Cryotherapy is a technique used to destroy abnormal tissue by freezing it. It is also called cryosurgery.
  • Conization - Also called a cone biopsy, conization removes a larger, cone-shaped sample of abnormal tissue.
  • Laser Therapy - During laser therapy, a tiny beam of light is used to destroy abnormal cells.

Follow-Up Care After Treatment

Following up after treatment for cervical dysplasia is absolutely necessary. Cells can become abnormal, despite treatment, requiring even further treatment. Follow-up consists of regular Pap smears and colposcopy exams for an extended period of time.

Further Reading

Cervical Dysplasia. In most cases, cervical cancer is a slow-progressing disease that often takes years to develop. Before actually developing into cancer, the cervix undergoes abnormal changes called cervical dysplasia.

What is Cervical Dysplasia? Although untreated cervical dysplasia may lead to cervical cancer in some cases, having cervical dysplasia does not mean that a person has cancer or will ever develop the disease. It is commonly treated first with monitoring to see if it persists, and then with outpatient procedures in the doctor's office.

Abnormal Pap Smears. When Pap smear results come back abnormal, then there are three categories that describe why it was found to be abnormal.


"Cervical Cancer (PDQ®): Treatment." General Information About Cervical Cancer. 19 APR 2006. National Cancer Institute. 

"National Cancer Institute Fact Sheet." Lasers in Cancer Treatment: Questions and Answers. 10 AUG 2004. National Cancer Institute. 

"National Cancer Institute Fact Sheet." The Pap Test: Questions and Answers. 12 FEB 2003. National Cancer Institute. 

"Tutorials." Colposcopy. 10 July 2004. National Library of Medicine. 

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