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Management of Lateral Uterine Perforation at the Time of Hysteroscopy

Jul 2012 – by J. Rothenberg, MD

Editor: Eduardo Lara-Torre, MD


Hysteroscopy is a standard tool in the armamentarium of gynecologists therefore, it is important to know how to deal with a rare, but potentially dangerous complication such as uterine perforation of the lateral wall at the time of the procedure. The overall rate of hysteroscopic complications is low; diagnostic cases have a lower rate than operative cases. Most perforations occur during insertion of the hysteroscope, tend to be located in the fundus and are usually self-limiting and less serious. Certain procedures are inherently riskier (adhesiolysis) than others (polypectomy). In order to prevent hysteroscopic complications one needs to be aware of the risks and precautions. It is also important to know how to manage rare but life threatening complications.

The uterine artery is the main source of blood to the uterus along with anastomosis from the vaginal artery. Severe bleeding from lateral uterine perforations albeit rare can have catastrophic consequences. They may be managed by laparoscopy, or laparotomy and may require emergent hysterectomy. The risks are related to the underlying cause of the damage to the lateral wall. If there is any concern for damage to surrounding organs then the threshold for visualizing the pelvis should be low. Lateral wall uterine perforations can lead to the development of a retroperitoneal hematoma, and cervical perforations can result in significant immediate or delayed bleeding. Laparoscopy or laparotomy may be needed to determine the extent of damage, including the existence of bowel injury or bladder injury. During this time laparoscopic suturing of a perforation, placement of sutures during laparotomy, hysterectomy, or uterine artery embolization may be necessary. Keeping an open line of communication with the anesthesia team is also critical, especially as fluid overload or embolism may accompany the perforation. Any damage to the uterine vasculature may increase the chance of fluid overload as there is now an easier portal of entry for the distention media.

While overall a relatively safe procedure one needs to be cognizant of the risks in order to not only limit the chance that they occur, but be ready to act if they do indeed take place.

Further reading:

Hysteroscopy. Technology Assessment in Obstetrics and Gynecology No. 7. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol 2011;117:148691. Available at:

Jansen FW, Vredevoogd CB, Van Ulzen K, Hermans J, Trimbos JB, Trimbos-Kemper, TCM. Complications of hysteroscopy: A prospective, multicenter study. Obstet Gynecol 2000;96:266-70.

Probst AM, Lieberman RF, Harlow BL, Ginsburg ES. Complications of hysteroscopic surgery: Predicting patients at risk. Obstet Gynecol 2000;96:517-20.