Hysteroscopy is a diagnostic and surgical procedure that makes examining the inside of the uterus possible without making an abdominal cut (incision). During hysteroscopy, a lighted viewing instrument called a hysteroscope is inserted through the vagina and cervix and into the uterus. Treatment can also be done through the hysteroscope during the same procedure.
Hysteroscopy usually takes 30 to 45 minutes. It is done as an outpatient procedure. General anesthesia is usually used, although local or spinal anesthesia can be used instead. You should not eat or drink for at least 4 to 8 hours before having the test. A gynecologist or surgeon does the procedure.
The uterus is filled with a fluid, such as normal saline or glycine. The hysteroscope is inserted through the cervix into the uterus so the inner surface of the uterus can be examined. Hysteroscopy can locate the cause of bleeding for many women.
Why It Is Done
Hysteroscopy is used both to diagnose and treat abnormal vaginal bleeding. If areas of bleeding are found during the procedure, the tissue may be destroyed by laser beam or electric current (electrocautery) or surgically removed at the same time.
Hysteroscopy is done to:
- Locate and evaluate the cause of uterine bleeding, such as uterine fibroids, when blood loss is severe.
- Confirm a diagnosis before the start of treatment with medicines that have significant side effects, such as danazol or a gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogue (GnRH-a).
Results of hysteroscopy may include the following.
No abnormalities are found.
Abnormal tissue growths, uterine fibroids, areas of active bleeding, or scar tissue is found in the uterus.
What To Think About
Hysteroscopy may be used to find out the cause of undiagnosed uterine bleeding before the start of treatment with medicines or surgery. It is important to find the cause of the bleeding before starting treatment with medicines that have significant side effects, such as danazol or a GnRH-a.
Hysteroscopy may be used both to diagnose and treat fibroids, which can cause heavy vaginal bleeding.
A hysteroscopy can cause injury to the uterus or cervix, an infection, or bleeding. In rare cases, the uterus, bladder, or bowel can be punctured during the test. Then surgical repair would be required.
If general anesthesia is used, there is a small risk of problems from the anesthesia.
The safe and effective use of a hysteroscope requires specialized training by the doctor.
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Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerDivya Gupta, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology, Gynecologic Oncology
Current as ofMarch 12, 2014