Hysteroscopy refers to the use of a thin tubular scope that is inserted through the cervix into the uterine cavity. The Hysteroscope is small enough that it can fit through the cervix with minimal or no dilation. The inside of the uterus is a collapsed cavity, to see inside it is necessary to fill (distend) it with either a liquid or a gas (carbon dioxide) in order to see. Diagnostic hysteroscopy and simple operative hysteroscopy can usually be done in an office setting. More complex operative hysteroscopy procedures are done at the ambulatory surgery center under anesthesia.View through a hysteroscope:
This is a view through a hysteroscope during office hysteroscopy. It shows the inside of the inside of a uterus with two myomas (fibroids) on the back wall. The top of the uterus is seen and appears normal. Myomas (Fibroids) like this can cause severe cramping (dysmenorrhea), heavy menstrual flow (menorrhagia) and bleeding between periods (metrorrhagia.) This may be diagnosed by hysteroscopy.These types of tumors can be removed using a special kind of hysteroscope called a resectoscope.
This photograph also taken during office hysteroscopy shows a polyp in the lower part of the uterus. This type of polyp often causes bleeding between periods and is easily removed in the office. Again, office hysteroscopy allowed quick and accurate diagnosis of the cause of abnormal bleeding. The polyp was removed by simple operative hysteroscopy during the same visit.How is Diagnostic Hysteroscopy done?
Unless a women has major medical problems, I do diagnostic hysteroscopy in my office. I numb the cervix (this is easily done and rarely uncomfortable.) I attach a video camera to the hysteroscope, so my patient can also see, and then insert the hysteroscope into the uterus under direct vision while using either saline or carbon dioxide to fill the uterus. Usually this causes mild cramping. We then can look for fibroids, polyps, and other problems that may be causing bleeding. This often takes about a minute or two. The hysteroscope is removed. A small plastic tube may be used to take a sample of the lining of the uterus. That's it!Isn't this too painful to do in the office?
By being very gentle, and using local anesthesia, there is usually minimal discomfort during hysteroscopy. Most women are able to get up and return to their normal activities immediately. If someone is very anxious, it is possible to give a short acting narcotic intravenously. This makes it very unlikely that the procedure will be uncomfortable.What is Operative Hysteroscopy?
During diagnostic hysteroscopy the hysteroscope is used just to observe the endometrial cavity (inside of the uterus.) During operative hysteroscopy a type of hysteroscope is used that has channels in which it is possible to insert very thin instruments. These instruments can be used to remove polyps, to cut adhesions, and do other procedures. With the development of better and smaller instruments, I find that I am able to remove some polyps in addition to doing other procedures that used to require a full operating room. In many situations, operative hysteroscopy may offer an alternative to hysterectomy.How is the Resectoscope different than a regular hysteroscope?
The resectoscope has been used for male prostate surgery for over 50 years. It has been modified so it can be used inside the uterus. The resectoscope is a hysteroscope with a built in wire loop (or other shape device) that uses high-frequency electrical current to cut or coagulate tissue. The resectoscope has revolutionized surgery inside the uterus. Click here to learn more about the resectoscope.