August 24, 2019
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Cancer of the uterus and cervix is the fourth most common malignancy among women, but the incidences have significantly decreased over time due to regular consultations, vaginal examinations, and diagnostic testing among women.

Vaginal examination plays a significant role in the diagnosis of diseases of the female reproductive system. Thus, the use of disposable speculum during a pelvic exam is essential to reduce cancer morbidity and mortality.

What is a Speculum?

Medical speculums are artificial tubes that are used to better visualise body orifices, such as the vagina, anus, ear, nose, and oral cavity. It has two opposite ends – the cylindrical part which is used to widen the specific body orifice, whereas the other pointed end is used to regulate the force and diameter upon opening.

Initially, speculums were made of stainless steel, repeatedly washed after use. However, disposable speculums are now often used in emergency and outpatient cases to reduce infection and prevent disease transmission.

What are the Types of Speculum?

There are several kinds of specula depending on the use, shape, and presence of blades. The most common type used in a vaginal exam is the two-valve cylindrical speculum, which is comprised of the two-ended dilate and screw mechanism. A paediatric speculum, which is shorter and narrower, is a safer alternative for children.

What Diseases Can be Detected through the Speculum?

Speculum use is essential in a test called Pap smear, which scrapes off cells in the surface of the cervix. Early signs of cervical cancer can then be detected based on the tissue samples. Sexually transmitted infections such as bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis, and gonorrhoea are also definitively diagnosed through this exam.

The Bottom Line

Diseases of the female reproductive tract can be prevented if detected and managed early. Thus, it is vital for hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities to have a sufficient supply of disposable speculums to ensure good quality care for patients.

Terohan Nula