Overcoming the Challenging Cervix: Identification and Techniques to Access the Uterine Cavity

Michelle A. Wood, Katherine L. Kerrigan, Megan K. Burns, Tanya L. Glenn, Artur Ludwin, Mindy Sue Christianson, Bala Bhagavath, Steven R. Lindheim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Importance Cervical stenosis is a challenging clinical entity that requires prompt identification and management in order to avoid iatrogenic injury at the time of endocervical canal cannulation. Objective The aim of this study was to identify cervical stenosis and discuss associated etiologies, risk factors, and review medical and surgical approaches for overcoming cervical stenosis. Evidence Acquisition Computerized searches of MEDLINE and PubMed were conducted using the key words "cervix", "cervical stenosis," "embryo transfer," "hysteroscopy complications," "misoprostol," and "ultrasound." References from identified sources were manually searched to allow for a thorough review. Data from relevant sources were compiled to create this review. Results Transcervical access to the uterine cavity is frequently required for procedures such as hysteroscopy, dilation and curettage, endometrial biopsy, sonohysterogram, hysterosalpingogram, intrauterine insemination, embryo transfer in those undergoing in vitro fertilization, and insertion of intrauterine devices. These procedures can become complicated when difficult cannulation of the endocervical canal is encountered. Management strategies include preprocedural use of cervical-ripening agents or osmotic dilators, ultrasound guidance, no-touch vaginoscopy, manual dilatation, and hysteroscopic resection of the obstructed endocervical canal. Conclusions and Relevance Cervical stenosis is associated with iatrogenic complications that can result in significant patient morbidity. In patients undergoing in vitro fertilization, difficult embryo transfer is associated with lower pregnancy rates. The clinician should carefully consider the patient's menopausal status, risk factors, and symptoms in order to anticipate difficult navigation of the endocervical canal. Various medical and surgical management strategies, including hysteroscopic resection, can be used to overcome the stenotic cervix. Target Audience Obstetricians and gynecologists, family physicians. Learning Objectives After participating in this activity, the provider should be better able to diagnose cervical stenosis; distinguish associated etiologies and risk factors; and assess appropriate medical and surgical approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)641-649
Number of pages9
JournalObstetrical and Gynecological Survey
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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