Objective: To estimate the incidence of complications of diagnostic and operative hysteroscopic procedures in the Netherlands and describe their nature.
Methods: Data on complications were recorded by 82 hospitals in 1997. Participating hospitals had a 100% response rate. Any unexpected events that required intraoperative or postoperative intervention were defined as complications in two groups: approach (entry-related) and technique-related (caused by surgical instruments).
Results: Thirty-eight complications occurred among 13,600 hysteroscopic procedures (rate 0.28%). Diagnostic hysteroscopic procedures had a significantly lower complication rate (0.13%) than operative procedures (rate 0.95%; P <.01). Fluid overloads of distention medium were recorded five times (rate 0.20%). The most frequent surgical complication was perforation of the uterine cavity (rate 0.76%). Approximately half the perforations (18 of 33) were entry-related. Bleeding caused by perforation was seen in 0.16% of cases. Incidences of complications were: intrauterine adhesiolysis 4.48%, endometrium resection 0.81%, myomectomy 0.75%, and removal of a polyp 0.38%.
Conclusion: Diagnostic hysteroscopic procedures had very low complication rates, so are safe procedures with which to evaluate intrauterine pathology. Operative hysteroscopic procedures were more risky, but the removal of polyps had a very low complication rate (12 times lower than synechiolysis). Half the complications were entry-related, so attention has to be paid to the method of entry with the hysteroscope (ie, no unnecessary dilation of cervix and introduction of the scope under direct vision). The other half of complications were related to surgeons' experience and type of procedure.