A vaginal speculum is a vital medical instrument that a […]
A vaginal speculum is a vital medical instrument that allows a health care provider to visualize the interior aspects of the vagina, as well as the distal portion of the uterus, the cervix. It is composed of 2 blades assembled together and held by a handle. The blades and the handle form a 90 degree-angle. As the user holds the handle, a lever attached to the top blade allows it to open away from the inferior blade.
When the instrument is inserted into the vagina, the two blades are separated in order to keep the anterior and posterior vaginal walls apart. In that position, the cervix and the walls of the vagina can be seen if the patient does not have an excess of loose vaginal tissue. However, in patients with excessive tissue, the sidewalls of the vagina simply collapse toward the midline between the blades because of the fact that no part of the speculum is in direct contact with the lateral walls of the vagina. This collapse prevents the complete and crucial visualization of the cervix for purposes of cervical cultures, pap smears, visual assessment of ruptured membranes, visual assessment of the degree of dilation, biopsies, and other procedures requiring access to the cervix or the uterus.
When clinicians face this dilemma, they may try the largest speculum available, and will open it as wide as possible in order to keep the lateral walls apart. Most often, they have to improvise by cutting the tip of a condom, or the thumb off a glove, or they use a sterile lateral-wall retractor. These other creative solutions can take several minutes of precious times and may still result in an inadequate visualization and suboptimal access.
A vaginal speculum sheath for retaining vaginal tissue in a lateral direction conforms to a pair of blades that are movable between an opened position and a closed position. The blades in the closed position are adapted for insertion into a vagina, and in the open position, they allow dilating the vagina in order to provide access to the cervix.
This new design includes a flexible, transparent polyurethane sleeve structure that extends between the blades when the speculum is opened. The stretched sheath is adapted to retain the lateral walls of the vagina in the open position. The elastic sleeve is designed to remain in a collapsed configuration when the blades are in a closed position to avoid interfering with insertion or withdrawal of the speculum. Polyurethane material is FDA approved for vaginal use.