JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Hysteroscopy: a technique for all? Analysis of 5,000 outpatient hysteroscopies.

OBJECTIVE: 1) To investigate the relationship between operator experience and the success of outpatient hysteroscopy; and 2) to determine if the introduction of normal saline and the use of narrow-caliber hysteroscopes and vaginoscopic approach are associated with a lower failure rate.

DESIGN: Retrospective study.

SETTING: Teaching-hospital based outpatient hysteroscopy clinic.

PATIENT(S): Five thousand consecutive women undergoing outpatient hysteroscopy between October 1988 and June 2003.

INTERVENTION(S): The hysteroscopies were carried out both by experienced operators and by trainees. Procedures were performed using 4-mm and 2.9-mm telescopes with 5-mm and 3.5-mm diagnostic sheaths, respectively. Between October 1988 and 1996, the uterine cavity was distended with CO(2) (CO(2) period), whereas normal saline was preferred after 1997 (1997-2003: saline period). Traditional technique of hysteroscope insertion and vaginoscopic approach were used depending on operator preference and experience and patient characteristics.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): Success, failure, and complication rates.

RESULT(S): The hysteroscopies were successfully performed in nearly 95% of cases by 362 operators (mean 13.8 hysteroscopies per operator) with different levels of expertise. Failure and complication rates were 5.2% and 5.4%, respectively, without any significant difference between CO(2) and saline periods. Vasovagal attacks and shoulder pain were significantly higher during the CO(2) period. The success of outpatient hysteroscopy was negatively affected by postmenopausal status, nulliparity, need for cervical dilatation or local anaesthesia, traditional technique of hysteroscope insertion, and use of a 5-mm hysteroscope.

CONCLUSION(S): A high level of expertise is not a prerequisite to performing hysteroscopy on an outpatient basis. Recent advances in technique and instrumentation facilitate this approach and might encourage greater adoption by the wider gynecology community.

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