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A uterine septum is a congenital abnormality that has been associated with poor reproductive outcome that can be readily corrected by hysteroscopic surgery. For this debate article we argue that all women with a uterine septum should have hysteroscopic septal resection before undergoing any fertility treatment. A uterine septum is a congenital uterine anomaly arising from the failure of canalisation of the uterus during embryological development. Uterine septa are more prevalent in women with a history of pregnancy loss, but not infertility alone, and are associated with an increased risk of first and second trimester miscarriage and preterm birth [1,2]. Diagnosis is straightforward with three-dimensional ultrasound. Adequate assessment of uterine morphology requires concurrent imaging of the external and internal controls of the uterus. Three-dimensional ultrasound facilitates such views and is safer and more acceptable to women than surgical assessment with hysteroscopy and laparoscopy which are required to see the internal and external fundal contours.
A 22-year-old female, gravida 3, para 0, presents to the office for evaluation of recurrent pregnancy loss. Her obstetric history is significant for three prior first-trimester losses, all managed expectantly. She has regular menstrual cycles and has not had difficulty with conceiving in the past. She has been in a relationship with her partner for four years and they desire to conceive at this time. She has no significant past medical or family history and has not had prior surgery. She takes no medications and has no allergies.
Uterine and tubal abnormalities alone or in combination with other factors are present in 17%–25% of all couples who seek care for infertility treatment. The prevalence is higher in older women and in those with secondary infertility. Although suspected at the history, it is usually confirmed by ultrasound/ laparoscopy and/or MRI depending on the cause. Multiple pathologies are identified under the umbrella of tubal and uterine factors, some are associated with infertility but very few are proven to be the only cause of infertility. Treatment depends on the condition. It ranges from no intervention to surgery to in vitro fertilisation (IVF). With advances in the technology of IVF, surgery is becoming a lost art, especially for tubal factors. Various surgical techniques have been suggested for uterine factors. Given most tubal and uterine factors have association rather than causation for infertility, the effect of surgery on improving fertility is debatable. We will discuss the causes of uterine and tubal factors, their implications on fertility, diagnostic modalities and treatment options with limitations of the available evidence. A good history and a high index of suspicion along with primary and secondary prevention of tubal and uterine factor infertility are important to prevent long-term implications.
The classification of uterine anomalies divides the uterine septum into complete (septate) or partial (subseptate) groups according, respectively, to whether the septum approaches the internal os or does not. The complete septum that divides both the uterine cavity and the endocervical canal may be associated with a longitudinal vaginal septum. Although surgery (hysteroscopy, alone or with laparoscopy), constitutes the gold standard for the diagnosis of uterine septum, various imaging tools including hysterosalpingography (HSG), ultrasonography, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have great value in the diagnosis, with high levels of accuracy. In infertility patients it is believed that incidentally discovered uterine septum and even arcuate uterus should be corrected hysteroscopically prior to any infertility treatment to enhance reproductive outcome. While the hysteroscopic approach for surgical resection of uterine septum is safe and effective, the choice of surgical technique (using sharp scissors or electrocautery) is an operator preference.
This chapter presents a comprehensive review of the reproductive problems that could be associated with uterine septum. The classification of uterine anomalies divides the uterine septum into complete (septate) or partial (subseptate) groups, according to whether the septum approaches the internal os or not, respectively. Although surgery (hysteroscopy, alone or with laparoscopy) constitutes the gold standard for the diagnosis of uterine septum, various imaging tools including hysterosalpingography (HSG), ultrasonography, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have great value in the diagnosis with high level of accuracy. The hysteroscopic approach for surgical resection of uterine septum is a safe and effective approach. While generally it is an operator preference whether to utilize ablative energy, for example, electrical diathermy or laser, or to utilize sharp scissors without energy, the outcome of treatment is comparable as regards complication and reproductive performance after surgery.
Fibroids are a frequent finding in women with infertility. Gonadotrophin releasing hormone agonists (GnRH-agonist) will cause both uterine and fibroid shrinkage and a reduction or elimination of menstrual flow. Uterine artery embolization offers an alternative method of treatment that allows conservation of the uterus. Under local anaesthesia and sedation, an 18-gauge needle can deliver heat to a fibroid with localized ablation of a fibroid. Hysteroscopic myomectomy may be considered for women with submucous fibroids less than 3 cm. Uterine septum is the most common congenital abnormality of the female reproductive tract with an incidence of 2-3% in the general population. This chapter discusses hydrosalpinx, endometriosis and ovulation induction, endometriosis and intrauterine insemination, endometriosis and in vitro fertilization, and management of ovarian cyst. It also explains elevated follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), thin endometrium, assisted reproductive techniques, and embryo transfer.
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