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What can a hysteroscopy diagnose?
A hysteroscopy is typically used when an individual is experiencing gynaecological issues such as heavy periods, recurrent miscarriages or unusual bleeding or discharge. It can also be used to help find the cause of infertility. A hysteroscopy is performed as part of a procedure to treat conditions such as fibroids and polyps and to check recurring gynaecological conditions.
What’s the difference between a diagnostic and an operative hysteroscopy?
During a hysteroscopy a telescope on the end of a very thin tube is passed up the vagina and through the cervix where it’s used to take images of the inside of the womb. If the procedure is for diagnostic purposes, then the surgeon will simply move the telescope around the womb to look for issues that could be causing a patient’s symptoms. In most cases, a diagnostic hysteroscopy is done without anaesthetic, but in some cases a local anaesthetic may be used.
A consultant will use an operative hysteroscopy to treat a gynaecological problem that has already been identified, either by a previous hysteroscopy or by ultrasound. When this is the case the procedure will be completed under general anaesthetic and you will usually be able to go home later the same day.
What happens during the procedure?
In many ways a hysteroscopy is similar to a smear test in that you will be asked to lie down and place your feet in stirrups before your doctor uses a speculum to open your cervix.
The doctor will then clean the area with antiseptic before passing the hysteroscope up into the womb. Once in place, the tiny hysteroscope camera will take pictures of the womb which the doctor will be able to view on a TV screen and use these to make a diagnosis. There are very few side effects to this procedure; in both the diagnostic and operational procedures, gas is passed into the womb to inflate the area so the doctor can see more clearly.
This can sometimes cause cramping which should last no longer than a couple of hours. In operational procedures there may be some light bleeding after the surgery and you will need to leave some time to recovery from the effects of general anaesthetic.
A consultation with a consultant who performs this procedure is required in the first instance.