Journal of the European Society for Gynaecological Endoscopy


Complications associated with monopolar resectoscopic surgery

George A. Vilos 1, H. Aishankiti 1, A. G. Vilos 1, Basim Abu-Rafea 1, A. Ternamian 2

1 The Fertility Clinic, London Health Sciences Centre, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada;
2 St. Joseph’s Health Toronto, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Toronto.


Hysteroscopy, uterine perforation, resectoscopic complications, vascular injury, bowel injury, electrosurgery

Published online: May 07 2020


Background: Resectoscopic injuries to bowel and/or vessels, although rare, can be catastrophic, resulting in significant patient harm including death and can provoke medicolegal litigation.

Objective: To examine indications, preoperative risk factors, perioperative findings and intervention, and clinical outcomes of resectoscopic injuries.

Materials & Methods: Eleven cases of resectoscopic complications were reviewed by one author (G.A.V.) for medicolegal purposes. After grouping of the complications, one case for each complication was selected, edited and reconstructed to reflect and highlight all potential complications associated with monopolar resectoscopes (26F, 9-mm) and nonconductive distending medium. Although these cases are reconstructed from actual complications, they do not reflect specific cases of medicolegal opinions and outcomes. Indications for resectoscopic surgery included abnormal uterine bleeding and/or infertility in premenopausal women.

Results: Injuries were associated with uterine perforation resulting in hemorrhage or bowel injury; urinary bladder injury without uterine perforation; and thermal injuries to lower genital tract and dispersive electrode site.

Conclusions: Resectoscopic complications are associated with any one or a combination of trauma during uterine access or intra-operatively, excessive fluid intravasation of distending medium or thermal injuries from applied energy. Uterine perforation in the presence of distorted anatomy (e.g. uterine fibroids) may be considered as a known and accepted complication. Lower genital tract and dispersive electrode site burn occur due to inherent design of monopolar resectoscopes. Appropriate intra- and post-operative intervention minimizes adverse clinical and medicolegal outcomes. Lack of post-operative vigilance and inappropriate delay in investigation and intervention is associated with adverse clinical and, potentially, unfavourable legal outcomes.

What is new? Reviewing resectoscopic complications raises awareness; provides insight for avoidance, recognition and timely intervention to minimise adverse clinical and medicolegal outcomes.