Hysteroscopy 101: Why single-use tools are important
When a woman experiences a medical issue related to her uterus – persistent uterine bleeding, for example – her gynecologist may recommend a medical exam known as a hysteroscopy. This article will take a closer look at the procedure, explaining what it entails, why it is performed and the critical reasons why single-use tools are the best option for keeping patients safe. Read on to learn more.
What is a hysteroscopy?
As detailed by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, hysteroscopy is a basic procedure wherein a physician uses a thin tool, known as a hysteroscope, to look inside a female patient’s uterus. The hysteroscope works as a kind of camera, and is able to send images of the inside of the uterus to a screen, which the physician uses to look for any abnormalities and make a diagnosis. A vaginal speculum is also used during a hysteroscopy. The speculum is inserted first – the purpose for this is to hold the area open, facilitating a smoother entry for the hysteroscope. In many cases additional medical tools are also used, contingent on the medical issue the hysteroscopy is dealing with.
“Hysteroscopies can be performed for operative reasons.”
In addition to being a diagnostic technique, hysteroscopies can also be performed for operative reasons, the Cleveland Clinic explained. For example, a hysteroscopy is an effective way to treat conditions such as polyps and fibroids and adhesions (areas of scar tissue). The source also noted that hysteroscopies are helpful for controlling episodes of extensive uterine bleeding, an issue that may be caused by conditions such as endometriosis. Under such conditions, the areas of inflamed or damaged tissue responsible for the bleeding are destroyed and removed.
In cases where cancer is suspected or simply needs to be ruled out, a hysteroscopy can also be performed to scrape away a tissue sample. The tissue is then sent for a biopsy which produces a diagnosis.
Why are hysteroscopies performed?
According to the ACOG, bleeding from the uterus that is not a consequence of a patient’s typical menstrual cycle is one of the primary reasons why hysteroscopies are recommended. For example, if a woman experiences bleeding between periods or after menopause, this is considered abnormal and medical intervention is recommended. Hysteroscopies are also used to investigate cases wherein menstrual bleeding is excessive or overly painful.
There are other circumstances under which a hysteroscopy may be advised, however. For example, as explained by Johns Hopkins Medicine, when a female patient experiences multiple miscarriages or has other problems conceiving, a hysteroscopy will likely be advised so that physicians can ascertain the root cause of the problem. The displacement of an intrauterine device – a form of birth control – is another scenario in which a hysteroscopy may be performed. As detailed above, there are also other circumstances under which an operative hysteroscopy may be introduced – the removal of polyps, for example.
Understanding what happens during a hysteroscopy
In terms of the nature of the procedure itself, hysteroscopy is relatively simple and can be performed in an outpatient setting. This means that many patients will not need to stay in the hospital overnight, the ACOG explained. The process is also relatively pain free, meaning that pain killing medications or relaxation medications may be used in lieu of local anesthesia in many cases. Some patients do opt to have local anesthesia, however, to numb the vaginal area, reducing the chance of any pain or discomfort. Britain’s National Health Service noted that under certain circumstances, particularly during operative hysteroscopies, a general anesthetic may be used.
As stated, hysteroscopies are relatively short procedures, and tend to last no more than a half hour. In many situations, however, they can take as little as five minutes, the NHS explained. The procedure itself starts with the insertion of the speculum, before a special solution or gas is pumped into the area, the ACOG outlined. This improves the quality of the screen visuals the physician receives. The hysteroscope is then inserted. If tissue collection is necessary for a biopsy, it will be collected toward the end of the procedure.
Important reasons for embracing single-use speculums
It is common practice, during hysteroscopies and a range of other medical procedures, for health care professional to utilize reusable medical tools. These devices are used on patients, before undergoing a sterilization process to kill bacteria and viruses. Once cleaned, the tools are reused on another patient, and then the cycle is repeated.
Studies have shown, however, that reusable are not as safe as many might assume. For example, a widely cited study from researchers at Brigham Young University in Utah found that the reusable tool disinfection process is ineffective at killing dangerous strains of the human papillomavirus, such as type 16, which is strongly linked to the development of cervical cancer in women. Consequently, when devices such as reusable speculums are used, during procedures such as a hysteroscopy, there is a small yet notable risk of cross-contamination with HPV – something which in turn can effectively put a patient’s life at risk.
An effective solution for medical practices looking to eliminate this risk is to embrace single-use tools. These devices are as they sound – they are designed to be used on one patient only before being safely disposed of, removing any risk of cross-contamination between individuals. And medical professionals are increasingly embracing this safer and more cost-effective approach. For example, Medical Technology Design Magazine found that, through the end of 2016, adoption of single-use tools increased by 6.4 percent annually every year, since 2013.
Consider OBP Medical
OBP Medical specialize in a range of durable single-use medical tools, that are cost-efficient and easy to-use. Better still, they offer both health care professionals and patients alike peace of mind through an eliminated risk of cross-contamination.
The OfficePACK for Hysteroscopy, for example, contains a range of tools needed to perform the procedure, including a OfficeSPEC single-use side-opening vaginal speculum, which boasts a safe LED light source. The tool is durable, straightforward and the only way to protect patients against the risk of cross-contamination with HPV and other viruses and bacteria.
To learn more about the range of single-use tools available from OBP Medical, including the OfficePACK for Hysteroscopy, and to request a free sample, click here.