What is a hysteroscopy and what is it for?

Hysteroscopy is a gold standard for detecting and treating uterine abnormalities. Today we teach you everything you need to know about it.

Last update: 20 January, 2022

Currently there are dozens of interventions and tests that allow the vagina, uterus and fallopian tubes to be explored in search of abnormalities that explain certain symptoms. The use of these varies according to the context, the patient and the specialist’s criteria.. Today we teach you what a hysteroscopy is, how it is performed and what its usefulness is.

Hysteroscopy is a procedure invented in 1865. exist two types: diagnostic and surgical. In the first case it is an exploratory examination, while in the second an intervention to correct uterine conditions. In the following lines we show you everything you should know about it, and we also clear up some frequently asked questions.

What is a hysteroscopy?

In the vast majority of cases, hysteroscopy is an outpatient procedure. However, a small proportion of patients may require further medical follow-up.

A hysteroscopy is a clinical or outpatient procedure used to access the uterine cavity. To do this, a hysteroscope is used, a thin and flexible instrument with a camera and lighting that facilitates the examination for the specialist.

It is a minimally invasive intervention and a gold standard technique for the evaluation and treatment of pathologies of the uterus, as the experts point out. Two types of procedures are identified:

  • Diagnostic hysteroscopy: It is used to diagnose problems in the uterus. As the researchers point out, it is a complementary option, so it does not eliminate or replace others such as endometrial biopsy, laparoscopy, Rubin’s test and hysterosalpingography. It is often done on an outpatient basis.
  • Surgical hysteroscopy: it is used to correct an anomaly or condition that has been detected in the diagnostic process. To do this, small instruments are inserted through the hysteroscope that allow the specialist to perform the intervention.

With the development of new technologies This procedure is one of the safest and most used to treat intrauterine anomalies.. Despite this, its use may be restricted in certain contexts: pregnant women, heavy or moderate vaginal bleeding (at the time of inspection), active pelvic infections, active genital herpes, and so on.

What is a hysteroscopy for?

Being an invasive method, there are some very specific conditions that allow the specialist to perform hysteroscopy.

As the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reminds us, hysteroscopy it is mainly used to determine the causes of abnormal vaginal bleeding. The specialist can use this procedure to diagnose or treat various conditions located in the uterus. Let’s look at a selection of contexts in which it can be used:

  • Determine the causes of a miscarriage.
  • Determine possible infertility problems.
  • Locate an intrauterine device and remove it.
  • Carry out sterilization processes.
  • Check for abnormal Pap test results.
  • Examine and remove uterine fibroids and polyps.
  • Take tissue samples (biopsy).

In general these are the most frequent uses of this procedure, although the specialist can use it for others or to complete other explorations already carried out. Any type of condition developed in the uterus or in its vicinity are candidates to be diagnosed or treated through this intervention.

How is a hysteroscopy done?

Hysteroscopies are usually done one week after the menstrual period. This allows a better examination, diagnosis or treatment of possible conditions of the uterus. Local, regional or general anesthesia can be used in the processIt depends on your health condition and the criteria of the professional who performs the examination.

Before inserting the hysteroscope, the specialist will dilate your cervix. For this, he will use special dilators or local medications. He will then insert the hysteroscope and move the scope through the vagina, cervix, and finally the uterus. At this point a gas, solution or liquid will be introduced that will expand this cavity.

Carbon dioxide or saline solution is generally used for this. The exact amount is meticulously controlled to achieve the expansion needed to explore the area. From here the professional will begin to check the lining of the uterus and the openings that connect to the fallopian tubes. Depending on what is done (diagnosis or surgical intervention) the procedure can last between 15 minutes to 1 hour.

In the event that you have planned a diagnostic hysteroscopy and an abnormality is detected that can be treated on the spot, this can be converted into a surgical hysterectomy in the process. This avoids carrying out two interventions, as long as there is the patient’s consent.

Frequently asked questions about the procedure

If it is the first time that you will face a procedure of this type, surely you have many doubts that have not been left in the previous sections. This is how we answer some of the frequently asked questions about hysteroscopy.

What are the dangers of this procedure?

According to John Hopkins Medicine, the most common complications are infection, bleeding, pelvic inflammatory disease, damage to the cervix, and complications from the gas or fluid used to expand the uterus.

Evidence suggests that 0.76% of operative hysteroscopies can lead to perforation of the uterine cavity. The risks are very low, so it is a safe procedure.

How is the recovery process?

Depending on the anesthesia used (local, regional or general) you will require a medical evaluation between a few minutes and several hours. This consists of the evaluation of blood pressure, respiration and other values. When all these are stable, you can leave the health center.

What can I expect next?

You may experience some side effects after the procedure. The most common are slight bleeding and pain in the abdominal area. You may also feel discomfort or tingling in your stomach area and shoulder. The specialist will suggest the intake of some medications in case these effects are uncomfortable (consult with him before taking any drug).

Do I have to spend the night in the medical center?

Since it is a minor procedure, you will be able to leave the hospital the same day the intervention is planned. This with the exception that major complications have occurred, there has been an unusual reaction to anesthesia or the doctor considers it pertinent.

If you have not resolved all your doubts regarding this intervention, We invite you to consult directly with your doctor. It’s important that you know why the procedure is done and what to expect. Hysteroscopy is a safe and quick exploration, so you should not fear in these senses.

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