A hysteroscopy is often used to diagnose causes of heavy and/or irregular periods, postmenopausal bleeding, pelvic pain and recurrent miscarriage. If a possible cause of your symptoms is found during the hysteroscopy it can often be treated at the same time.
During a hysteroscopy a fibre-optic "telescope" is passed through the vagina and cervix and into the uterus, to allow a
clearer view of the womb lining (uterine wall). The telescope has a light and a camera at the end which sends images
back to a screen.
The procedure is carried out in hospital under a general anaesthetic and takes around twenty minutes. No incisions (cuts) are made to your skin during the operation which can usually be performed as a day-case procedure i.e. you should be able to go home on the same day. Following the operation, recovery time is usually quite quick and you should not need a lengthy time off work although some patients experience mild period-like cramping afterwards.
A polyp is an abnormal growth of tissue usually found on the cervix. Most polyps are benign (non-cancerous) and can normally be removed during a hysteroscopy by passing an instrument through the cervix to perform a polypectomy (removal). Normally a biopsy will be carried out on the polyp once it has been removed to check for any abnormalities.
During hysteroscopy the opening of the cervix is dilated (expanded) to allow an instrument to be passed through into the uterus to take curettings (scrapings) from the lining of the womb. This is sometimes required following a miscarriage or to treat/diagnose other uterine conditions. The tissue that is removed is sent for histological examination.
A fibroid is a non-cancerous growth made up of muscle and fibrous tissue that usually develops within the wall of the uterus. Fibroids are quite common - affecting 1 in 3 women - and although they can often go undiagnosed if they are not causing any symptoms, they can sometimes lead to fertility problems. Small fibroids can often be removed during a hysteroscopy.