A woman’s reproductive system is a complex health entity that often requires the unique attention of an OBGYN Specialist. Certain diagnostic testing and procedures can be performed as a necessary means of identifying and treating a variety of gynecological conditions that may arise throughout a woman’s life. Whether you are pained by difficult menstrual periods, concerned about conceiving, or looking to stay up-to-date on breast health, there is a comprehensive list of diagnostic tests to address all OBGYN concerns.
A biopsy is conducted when previous tests, such as mammograms and Pap smears, reveal potential abnormalities in the breast or cervical tissue that cannot be confirmed as benign (non-cancerous). Biopsies are also done to obtain samples of the endometrial lining of the uterus to investigate abnormal menses. It involves removing all or part of the abnormal tissue using either a scalpel or by one of four needle aspiration techniques.
This test is performed if a routine examination or Pap reveals abnormalities in the cervix. Doctors may also order it if your mother took DES (a synthetic estrogen) when pregnant with you, or if you have genital warts. During the procedure, a colposcope is inserted into the vagina and used to magnify an area of the cervix. If an abnormality is found, the doctor will likely call for a biopsy of the area.
A vaginal culture is a test utilized for identifying the cause of an infection. Using a Q-tip-like swab, the doctor will collect a sample of cervical mucus for analysis.
Endocervical Curettage (ECC)
This is another procedure used to collect a tissue sample and is frequently done along with a cervical biopsy. A sample is taken from the area near the opening of the cervix in order to prevent missing any abnormal tissue, such as endometrial polyps. The procedure also screens for uterine cancer.
In this X-ray procedure, a doctor injects dye into the uterus to outline irregularities in the uterine wall. The dye can also travel through to the fallopian tubes so that they may be evaluated, as well. Patients who are struggling to conceive are often referred to this test, as infections in this area can cause blockages in the tubes and prevent pregnancy. Hysterosalpinograms also show abnormally shaped and/or structured uteruses.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
An MRI may be used to identify the location of uterine fibroids. While fibroids are almost always benign, they can grow into uncomfortable, grapefruit-sized tumors. MRIs are most useful when the doctor is determining whether you have fibroids or adenomyosis, a condition involving the lining of the uterus that causes cramps, bloating, and heavy menstrual periods.
A wet mount is a vaginitis test used to diagnose vaginal infections that don’t affect the urinary tract. Vaginitis (or vulvovaginitis) encompasses a variety of disorders that can be caused by viruses, bacteria, and yeast infections. The doctor inserts a specula into the vagina in order to better see the area before using a sterile cotton swab to obtain a sample of vaginal discharge for lab testing.