Hysteroscopy is a surgical procedure that a doctor performs to examine the inner lining of the uterus and cervix. The doctor uses a device called the hysteroscope that travels through the vagina to get a detailed view of the cervical canal and endometrial cavity. This procedure is often performed in cases of heavy or irregular menstrual periods, treat causes of infertility, recurrent miscarriages and abnormal bleeding amongst others. There are two types of hysteroscopy - diagnostic or operative. A diagnostic hysteroscopy is used to correct problems in the uterus and an operative hysteroscopy is used to treat abnormal conditions detected during the diagnosis process.
The foremost reason to conduct hysteroscopy is to find the cause of abnormal uterine bleeding. Abnormal bleeding can result in a woman’s menstrual periods to be longer with heavy bleeding. In some cases it may lead to irregular cycles. Surgical hysteroscopy is also performed to remove adhesions that occur due to infection of previous surgery, to find the cause when a woman has had repeated miscarriage, find an intrauterine device and to perform sterilization procedure.
Hysteroscopy is a non-invasive technique of diagnosis and has several advantages. The most notable advantage being that since there are no incisions in the skin, there is relatively low level of pain involved and a shorter duration of stay in the hospital. This also means there is no scarring involved. The procedure also minimizes the risk of infection and ensures the patient is back on her feet at the earliest.
Risks of hysteroscopy
Like every procedure hysteroscopy is not without its risk. Risks can be varied and there are chances of complications. Infection, excess bleeding, damage to uterus or the cervix, feeling bloated and full because of the fluid or gas used to expand the uterus are some of the risks associated with hysteroscopy. A person who has undergone the procedure may experience slight vaginal bleeding and cramps for a day or two after the procedure.
Before the procedure
Since there are certain risks involved the doctor performing the procedure is likely to draw consent forms to be signed by you. A doctor will also explain the procedure involved, the amount if time the procedure will take, extent of hospitalization, medicines to be discontinued amongst others. Sometimes a patient maybe asked to fast before the procedure.
In some cases additional test like a complete blood count maybe asked for to know the basic health status of a patient. In other cases CT scanning or MRI scan of the adnominal region may also be called for. A mild sedative maybe given a night prior to the procedure to help relax and the patient will be advised to dress in loose fitting clothes and remove any ornaments and accessories.
During the procedure
A patient undergoing the procedure is asked to lie on her back with her legs in a 90 degree angle. The bladder maybe emptied before the procedure and depending on the doctor and his choice anesthesia maybe administered locally, regionally or generally to the patient. Subsequently the cervix is dilated manually and the thin tubes of hysteroscope is inserted into the endocervical canal and then pushed through the uterine cavity.
Subsequently carbon dioxide gas or a liquid solution is then inserted into to endometrial cavity that helps clear the view for the doctor. A light at the end of the hysteroscope allows the doctor to have a clear view of the uterus and the adjoining areas. The procedure also allows the doctor to insert small surgical instruments to carry out biopsy, where a tissue sample is removed for further investigation. If a surgery needs to be performed, small instruments can be inserted to perform the procedure.
During the recovery process some symptoms like fainting, cramps similar to period pains, mild bleeding, nausea and fatigue or muscle pain maybe experienced. Discharge from hospital is usually on the same day for hysteroscopy procedure. If you are unwell, an overnight stay in hospital may be needed. You are not allowed to drive back home after the procedure and an attendant to take you back home is asked for by the hospital.
Written by: Healthplus24 team
Date last updated: August 22, 2013