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What is a Hysteroscope?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2016
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A hysteroscope is a tool which is used in hysteroscopy, a procedure in which a physician looks inside the uterus. The procedure can be diagnostic or operative in nature, and is minimally invasive. Sometimes, hysteroscopy may be performed in a medical office, while in other cases, it may take place in a hospital environment. This tool is usually used by a gynecologist, a specialist in the treatment of conditions involving the female reproductive tract.

The hysteroscope consists of a long, thin tube which is mounted with a camera and light. Many doctors use flexible hysteroscopes, which are more comfortable for the patient. When a hysteroscopy is performed, a speculum is inserted into the vagina, and the tube is threaded through the vagina, past the cervix, and into the uterus. An image is displayed on a video screen, and the doctor can manipulate the tube to look into different areas of the uterus. The image may be recorded for future reference.

When a hysteroscope is used for diagnostic purposes, the doctor uses the tool to look at the uterus to see if she or he can identify the cause of a medical issue. For example, the doctor might want to know why a patient is experiencing recurrent miscarriages, or whether or not the patient has uterine fibroids. The doctor may insert another tool to take a sample from the uterine wall for a biopsy.

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In surgical procedures, tools can be guided in to remove growths such as polyps or to insert and remove birth control. Hysteroscopy is an endoscopic procedure, allowing the doctor to work inside the patient's body without having to make an incision. This made the procedure more comfortable for the patient and also radically decreases healing time.

Having a hysteroscope inserted is usually not very comfortable. In some cases, local anesthetics may be used during the procedure, and sometimes a regional or general anesthesia is used. Patients who are concerned or stressed may be given medications to help them relax, as tension can make the procedure more painful and unpleasant.

Hysteroscopy is generally an outpatient procedure, with the patient being allowed to leave as soon as the procedure has concluded. If general anesthesia is used, the patient will need to spend some time being monitored in recovery. Common complications of hysteroscope use include breakthrough bleeding and cramping. More rarely, the device can puncture the uterus, exposing the patient to the risk of a serious infection.

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