Hysteroscopy is often helpful in diagnosing or checking for a variety of abnormalities or disorders of the uterus, such as thickening of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus), irregular or heavy menstrual bleeding, cancerous or non-cancerous tumors, polyps, or other growths, and problems of infertility. This technique can also be an aid during other procedures, allowing doctors to see the inside of the uterus while performing procedures such as endometrial ablation (removal of the uterine lining), removing fibroid tumors, or making other surgical corrections inside the uterus without the use of open abdominal surgery.
To perform the procedure, a doctor inserts a very thin tube with a lens like a telescope lens into the uterus through the cervix. Often, the cervix is numbed before insertion to prevent any possible discomfort. Then, the uterus, which is normally somewhat collapsed except in pregnancy, is pumped full of either sterile saline solution or carbon dioxide gas, which expands the uterus so that the uterine wall can be seen clearly and completely. After this is done, the hysteroscope is used to thoroughly view the inside of the uterus. The doctor may take a uterine tissue biopsy (a small sample of uterine tissue for lab analysis), as well. After the doctor is done viewing the inside of the uterus and taking any necessary samples, he then allows the saline solution or gas to drain from the uterus.
If the hysteroscopy is done only to explore and examine the uterus, then the procedure can be done easily in a doctor's office, and patients can go home and return to normal activity immediately. There may be some mild cramping or discomfort for a day or so following the procedure, and some patients may experience light bleeding.
Surgical hysteroscopy, such as that used to remove uterine fibroids or perform endometrial ablation, usually must be done in a hospital setting, and requires at least of or two hours of recovery time before patients are permitted to go home. The after-effects of this type of hysteroscopy varies with the procedure it helps to perform, but typically include cramping, vaginal bleeding, and in some cases, infection, which can be treated with antibiotics. Patients are usually able to return to normal activities within a week of the procedure.
Last updated: 06-Jun-07