Hysteroscopy is the inspection of the uterine cavity that allows for the diagnosis and treatment of various uterine conditions. Some of which, could lead to fertility problems.
Uterine Septum (Septate uterus)
This is the most common uterine malformation and a common cause of miscarriage. It is unclear whether a uterine septum increases the chances for infertility or not. A wedge of tissue is present inside the uterine cavity, which divides it into two halves (also called uterine horns).
When seen through a hysteroscope, the uterine horns are seen as two dark openings separated by a wedge of tissue. By introducing an electrode through the hysteroscope, the septum can be shaved or vaporized all the way to the top of the cavity. The finished product is a uterine cavity that is unified into one large space instead of divided in two.
These are uterine growths a few millimeters to centimeters in size. Polyps arise from the uterine lining (endometrium). A polyp may be attached to the uterine wall directly or by a thin “stalk”.
Patients often have no symptoms from polyps but will occasionally notice irregular vaginal bleeding. This bleeding may occur in between periods or cause the period to be longer in duration or heavier than normal.
Polyps are also associated with an increased risk for miscarriage. Large polyps, which occupy the majority of the uterine cavity, are also probably responsible for infertility. Small polyps can be most easily vaporized in place. Polyps which are attached by a stalk can sometimes be removed by cutting through the stalk and removing the entire polyp through the cervix. Larger polyps may have to be removed by shaving small strips one at a time until the polyp is completely gone, or slightly deeper, taking a margin of the myometrium. This tissue is sent out for pathology.
These benign tumors arise from the muscle layers of the uterus. Often they will stay in the muscle layer but on occasion, fibroids can grow into the uterine cavity. Like polyps, fibroids can cause bleeding, infertility, and as well as miscarriage. Removal of fibroids from the uterine cavity is performed using the same methods as for polyps.
Scar tissue inside the uterine cavity, also called adhesions, can arise from infection or trauma to the uterine lining. Although rare, the most common cause for uterine adhesions to form is from a previous D&C procedure. Scar tissue inside the uterus can be small and isolated to a certain spot. This type of adhesion looks like a band running from one wall of the uterus to another. Sometimes adhesions take the form of two walls that are stuck together causing the cavity at that spot to be completely obliterated. In rare instances, the entire cavity can be obliterated. Uterine adhesions can cause infertility or miscarriage. If the uterine cavity is partially or completely obliterated, a woman may notice that her period are lighter or even stop altogether. Band adhesions can be easily cut restoring the normal anatomy of the uterine cavity. When the walls are stuck together, the surgeon must carefully dissect between them in order to separate the walls. This can be a very difficult process if there is little normal uterine cavity that remains to serve as a guide.