Late complications of operative hysteroscopy

J M Cooper, R M Brady
Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics of North America 2000, 27 (2): 367-74
The late complications of operative hysteroscopy result from either persistent endometrium after ablation or myometrial damage during surgery. Residual endometrium can become neoplastic, cause pain, or support a pregnancy. Myometrial damage can produce catastrophic consequences during a later pregnancy. These long-term problems place the impetus on the operating physician to select patients carefully, prepare the endometrium, and operate in such a way as to minimize the likelihood of residual endometrium and unnecessary myometrial damage. The value of operative hysteroscopy for infertility secondary to adhesions and uterine septa is unequivocal. Hysteroscopic surgery offers increased fertility rates while avoiding the risks of open surgery. For the treatment of abnormal uterine bleeding, endometrial ablation can be performed safely, and the long-term benefits are durable. As more operative hysteroscopy is performed, more delayed complications will arise. Easy-to-perform global ablation techniques and multifunctional operative hysteroscopes have enticed more gynecologists to test the waters of endometrial ablation and operative hysteroscopy. Although they empower the hysteroscopist to offer more advanced and more valuable minimally invasive options to patients, these tools simultaneously can tempt the surgeon to forego meticulous preoperative evaluation. Evidence exists that too often women undergo surgery without complete diagnostic assessment. In one study, 50% of women underwent hysterectomy without any diagnostic evaluation of the endometrium. Hysterectomy possesses a saving grace in that it provides cover for many missed diagnoses. Conservative, nonextirpative procedures offer no such life raft. Meticulous diagnostic assessment and preoperative consideration of risk factors for residual endometrium and future pregnancy remain the keys to minimizing late complications.

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