Medical Tests For Women
Diagrams: Female Body
|What Is A Hysteroscopy?
A hysteroscopy is a procedure used to diagnose and treat problems inside the uterus (womb). During the procedure a clinician inserts a thin, lighted tube (with a camera) called a hysteroscope through the vagina and cervix and into the uterus. This technique can be used both to diagnose and treat problems. It is usually performed on an outpatient basis (you go home same day) under local anesthesia (the vaginal area only is numbed). A regional (lower body) or general anesthesia (completely unconscious) is necessary when it is used for treatment purposes.
It is usually ordered because the woman is suffering symptoms that suggest there is a problem with her womb. These symptoms might include:
It can be used to treat abnormal growths, if found, in the womb such as:
When a hysteroscopy is performed for diagnostic purposes, it can be done in a gynecologist’s office. You will be asked to remove clothes from your lower half and lie back on the examination couch. Your legs will be placed in stirrups to keep them widened and a speculum is inserted to keep the walls of the vagina open. The doctor will inject a local anesthetic around the cervix, which may initially be a little painful. After a few minutes, when the area is numb, a narrow lighted tube (with camera) is passed through the cervix and into the womb. The doctor will carefully view the area on a video monitor. Hysteroscopy is used for similar diagnostic reasons as a D&C, only that hysteroscopy is much better because the whole womb can be viewed on monitor. The complete procedure takes about half an hour.
If a hysteroscopy is performed for treatment purposes, it is done in an operating theatre and regional or general anesthetic is used. Gas may be injected to inflate the womb to give the surgeon a better view. If your surgeon plans to remove growths, surgical instruments will be inserted through the hysteroscope to snip or scrap out the tissue. This type of surgery can take several hours, depending on what needs to be done. No overnight hospital stay is necessary.
Recovering From Hysteroscopy
Very rarely (1 in 250 cases) an infection of the uterus will occur. Or, there may be some accidental damage to the cervix or womb which needs further surgery to correct (1 in 135 cases). Hysteroscopy performed in an operating theatre under regional or general anesthesia carries the additional risks associated with these medications. Overall, hysteroscopy is considered a relatively safe procedure.
A myomectomy is a surgical procedure to remove uterine fibroids. There are several ways of performing myomectomy. One involves making an incision across the tummy (abdominal myomectomy laparotomy). Another involves smaller incisions in the tummy (laparoscopic or robotic myomectomy). A hysteroscopic myomectomy utilizes hysteroscopy procedure, removing the fibroids through the vagina. That is the technique described in this article. Hysteroscopy is more suitable for removing small fibroids.
I had a hysteroscopy done recently to remove a uterine polyp after a failed IVF cycle. I was having a brown discharge between periods and problems getting pregnant. During the surgery they also found a fibroid, and removed it along with the polyp. It turns out that the polyp or fibroid was causing the brown discharge. I’m so happy that I had it done. I don’t have any more breakthrough bleeding and the pressure in my lower abdomen is gone. My period has also changed. I used to have heavy periods in the past and now they are normal. I’m hoping I’ll get pregnant now too.
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