Hysteroscopy is the inspection of the uterine cavity by endoscopy. It allows for the diagnosis of intrauterine pathology and serves as a method for surgical intervention (operative hysteroscopy).
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The hysteroscope is a long tube, about the size of a straw, which has a built-in viewing device. Hysteroscopy is useful for diagnosing and treating some problems that cause infertility, miscarriages, and abnormal menstrual bleeding. Sometimes other procedures, such as laparoscopy, are done at the same time as hysteroscopy.
The hysteroscope is an optical instrument connected to a video unit with a fiber optic light source, and to the channels for delivery and removal of a distention medium. The uterine cavity is a potential cavity and needs to be distended to allow for inspection. Thus during hysteroscopy either fluids or CO2 gas is introduced to expand the cavity. The choice is dependent on the procedure and the patient’s condition. Fluids can be used for both diagnostic and operative procedures. However, CO2 gas does not allow the clearing of blood and endometrial debris during the procedure, which could make the imaging visualization difficult. Gas embolism may also arise as a complication. Since the success of the procedure is totally depending on the quality of the high-resolution video images in front of surgeon’s eyes, CO2 gas is not commonly used as the distention medium. Electrolytic solutions include normal saline and lactated Ringer’s. Current recommendation is to use the electrolytic fluids in diagnostic cases, and in operative cases in which mechanical, laser, or bipolar energy is used. Since they are conducting electricity, these fluids should not be used with monopolar electrosurgical devices. Non-electrolytic fluids eliminate problems with electrical conductivity, but can increase the risk of hyponatremia. These solutions include glucose, glycine, dextran (Hyskon), mannitol, sorbitol and a mannitol/sorbital mixture (Purisol). Water was once used routinely, however, problems with water intoxication and hemolysis discontinued its use by 1990. Each of these distention fluids is associated with unique physiological changes that should be considered when selecting a distention fluid. Glucose is contraindicated in patients with glucose intolerance. Sorbitol metabolizes to fructose in the liver and is contraindicated if patients has fructose intolerance. High-viscous Dextran also has potential complications which can be physiological and mechanical. It may crystallize on instruments and obstruct the valves and channels. Coagulation abnormalities and adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) have been reported. Glycine metabolizes into ammonia and can cross the blood brain barrier, causing agitation, vomiting and coma. Mannitol 5% should be used instead of glycine or sorbitol when using monopolar electrosurgical devices. Mannitol 5% has a diuretic effect and can also cause hypotension and circulatory collapse. The mannitol/sorbitol mixture (Purisol) should be avoided in fructose intolerant patients.
A hysteroscope is in fact a modification of the traditional resectoscope, which is used for transurethral resection of the prostate. It has a double-channeled sheath allowing for continuous flow of fluid or gas media into the uterus through the larger channel, while allowing for less outflow through the smaller channel. This results in the distention of the uterine cavity. With modern optical technologies, hysteroscopes are getting smaller in diameter yet able to provide larger and brighter images for surgeons’ convenience.
After cervical dilation, the hysteroscope is guided into the uterine cavity and an inspection is performed. If abnormalities are found, an operative hysteroscope with a channel to allow specialized instruments to enter the cavity is used to perform the surgery. Typical procedures include endometrial ablation, submucosal fibroid resection, and endometrial polypectomy. Typically hysteroscopic intervention is done under general endotracheal anesthesia or Monitored Anesthesia Care (MAC), but a short diagnostic procedure can be performed in a gynecologist‘s office with just a paracervical block using the Lidocaine injection in the upper part of the cervix.
Why it is Done:
Hysteroscopy is useful in a number of uterine conditions:
Asherman’s syndrome (ie. intrauterine adhesions). Hysteroscopic adhesiolysis is the technique of lysing adhesions in the
*uterus using either microscissors (recommended) or thermal energy modalities. Hysteroscopy can be used in conjunction with laparascopy or other methods to reduce the risk of perforation during the procedure.
*Endometrial polyp. Polypectomy.
*Uterine fibroids. Myomectomy.
*Congenital Uterine malformations (also known as Mullerian malformations). Eg.septum,
*Evacuation of retained products of conception in selected cases.
Hysteroscopy has the benefit of allowing direct visualization of the uterus, thereby avoiding or reducing iatrogenic trauma to delicate reproductive tissue which may result in Asherman’s syndrome.
How do you prepare for the test
The time that you schedule this test can be important. Your gynecologist is able to get the best view of the uterine lining during the week that follows your period. If you have regular cycles, it is helpful for you to anticipate the timing of your next period and plan to have the hysteroscopy done in the following week.
Tell your doctor ahead of time if you have ever had an allergic reaction to lidocaine or the numbing medicine used at the dentist’s office. Discuss different options for anesthesia with your doctor in advance.
If your doctor plans on giving you any anti-anxiety medicines before the procedure, or if you are going to have other tests done at the same time as hysteroscopy, you might be told not to eat or drink for eighthours or more before the test. Just before the test, you should empty your bladder.
After the procedure, you may have slight vaginal bleeding and cramps for one or two days. Sometimes a small amount of the gas used to expand the uterus can float up to the top of the abdomen and remain there for a day or two before it dissolves away. This can cause some shoulder pain. Some patients experience nausea from medicines used for anesthesia or anxiety.
Some of the procedures that are done along with hysteroscopy have risks of their own. You should ask your doctor about special risks that might come along with additional procedures planned for you.
A common problem is the uterine perforation when the instrument breaches the wall of the uterus. This can lead to bleeding and damage to other organs. A life-threatening condition is the bowel perforation by the instruments after the uterine perforation, resulting in acute peritonitis which can be fatal. Furthermore, cervical laceration, intrauterine infection (especially in prolonged procedures), electrical and laser injuries, and complications caused by the distention media described above are also not uncommon. The overall complication rate for diagnostic and operative hysteroscopy is 2% with serious complications occurring in less then 1% of cases.
How long is it before the result of the test is known
Your doctor can tell you what was seen through the hysteroscope right away. If a biopsy sample is removed, the analysis might take several days.