Hysteroscopy is the visual examination of the canal of the cervix and interior of the uterus using a thin, lighted, flexible tube called a hysteroscope. The device is inserted through the vagina.
Hysteroscopy may be used for both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. The hysteroscope allows for easy visual access to the interior of the cervix and uterus to assess the lining of these structures. Therapeutic maneuvers, such as taking a tissue sample (biopsy), removal of polyps or tumors, or preventing bleeding with cautery (destruction of tissue by electric current, freezing, heat, or chemicals) may be performed during a hysteroscopy procedure.
Hysteroscopy can also be used to treat infertility. Learn more about the use of hysteroscopy to treat infertility at the Center for Human Reproduction.
Diagnostic hysteroscopy may be performed in a physician's office or in an outpatient facility with local or no anesthesia required. More invasive therapeutic hysteroscopy procedures may be performed in the operating room under local, regional, or general anesthesia.
Because the physician is able to see the interior of the cervix and uterus during the procedure, diagnostic hysteroscopy has become a more common procedure than dilation and curettage (D & C), which is performed without endoscopic visualization.
Hysteroscopy may be performed in women who have an abnormal Pap test, dysfunctional uterine bleeding, or postmenopausal bleeding. It may be used to help diagnose causes of infertility or repeated miscarriages. Hysteroscopy may also be used to evaluate uterine adhesions (Asherman's syndrome), polyps, and fibroids, and to locate and remove displaced intrauterine devices (IUDs).
Therapeutically, hysteroscopy may be used to help correct uterine problems. For example, small adhesions and fibroids may be removed through the hysteroscope, often eliminating the need for open abdominal surgery. Endometrial biopsy or ablation (removal of the endometrial lining) may be performed via hysteroscopy. The term "operative hysteroscopy" may be used in these situations.