What Is Low-Grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesion (LGSIL)?

What This Pap Smear Result Means—and How It's Treated

equipment for Pap smear
LGSIL is a medical term given to a level of cervical dysplasia and is detected through a Pap smear. SATURN STILLS/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (often called LGSIL or LSIL for short) is a medical term that's given to a mild level of cervical dysplasia, a result that's detected through a Pap smear. LGSIL is likely caused by the human papillomavirus (also known as HPV). The result is considered "abnormal" and requires further testing and possibly treatment, but the good news is that in most cases, it clears up on its own within two years.


How LGSIL Is Detected

When women visit their OB/GYN doctors for checkups, they often receive a Pap smear, which is sometimes called a Pap test. It's a procedure that tests for cervical cancer in women and takes just a few minutes. A Pap smear involves collecting cells from the cervix—the lower, narrow end of the uterus that's at the top of the vagina.

A woman lies on an exam table, naked from the waist down, and puts her feet in stirrups. The doctor inserts a medical instrument called a speculum (which is lubricated) into the vagina and gently rubs the cervix with a brush or swab to obtain a collection of cells. These cells are then sent to a lab to be analyzed. 

What Happens If I Get an LGSIL Pap Result?

If LGSIL is found through a Pap smear, a colposcopy is then done to confirm the results. A colposcopy is an in-office procedure that allows a doctor to examine the cervix more in-depth. It is done by using a colposcope, a lighted microscope that magnifies the cervix.

During the colposcopy, the doctor may also do a cervical biopsy to remove small pieces of cervical tissue. The tissue samples are then sent to a lab for further examination. A colposcopy normally takes less than an hour to perform. Results are available within two weeks, depending on the lab the doctor uses.

What Does LGSIL Mean For My Health?

LGSIL means that the cells may be precancerous and years down the line, could turn into cervical cancer. The fact that they are considered "low-grade" means that the process is likely to be gradual ​if it happens at all. (If the cells are diagnosed as "high-grade" or HGSIL, on the other hand, it means that they could turn into cancer much faster.) 

Low-Grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesion Treatment

One of the most common ways to treat LGSIL is to take a "watch and wait" approach. Since low-grade dysplasia usually resolves itself, no medical treatment may be needed. Colposcopies and biopsies may be done at regular intervals to monitor the dysplasia.

If the dysplasia progresses, treatment may be necessary. Treatment to remove abnormal tissue includes:

  • Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP): During a LEEP procedure, an electric current is sent through a wire loop. The wire loop acts as a knife, removing abnormal cervical cells.
  • Cryotherapy: Cryotherapy is a technique that's 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.


Mayo Clinic. Pap Smear. http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/pap-smear/basics/why-its-done/prc-20013038

"National Cancer Institute Fact Sheet." The Pap Test: Questions and Answers. 12 FEB 2003. National Cancer Institute. 22 Oct 2006.

"National Cancer Institute Fact Sheet." Lasers in Cancer Treatment: Questions and Answers. 10 AUG 2004. National Cancer Institute. 22 Oct 2006.

"Cervical Cancer (PDQ®): Treatment." General Information About Cervical Cancer. 19 APR 2006. National Cancer Institute. 22 Oct 2006 .

"Tutorials." Colposcopy. 10 July 2004. National Library of Medicine. 22 Oct 2006.

Continue Reading