Choosing the Right Colposcope for Your Practice

Colposcopy provides physicians with an important tool for the early detection of cervical cancer, which kills more than 4,000 women in the U.S. each year. Modern colposcopes provide physicians with greater functionality, including the ability to use digital imagery to project images on screen and share them with other physicians. Medical practices in the market for new devices should be aware of the benefits offered by modern devices and take a thorough, deliberate approach to acquiring a new device.

Cervical Cancer in the U.S. & Worldwide

About 12,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year and nearly a third of them die from the illness. Cervical cancer is a greater problem worldwide. Globally, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer, and the fourth most common cause of death from cancer among women. In 2012, about 528,000 cases of cervical cancer were diagnosed, and 266,000 women died of the illness, according to the World Health Organization.

In colposcopy, a doctor will use a magnifying device called a colposcope to examine a patients vulva, vagina, and cervix. If the doctor detects a problem, he or she will likely take a biopsy from the cervix and examine it under a microscope.

The colposcope itself typically consists of a set of lenses and a bright light. The colposcope usually sits on a base with a retractable arm that the doctor can position to get the view he or she needs. Colposcopes may also be on overhead arms that are mounted to the ceiling or wall of the doctors office. Modern devices can take images or video. Photos and video can be enlarged or enhanced by doctors for a better examination. Video also provides a more dynamic view of the area being examined.

When conducting the colposcopic examination, the doctor will insert a lubricated speculum into the patients vagina, allowing the doctor an unimpeded look at the vagina and cervix. The doctor will look through the device at the patients vagina and cervix. The doctor may use acetic acid or iodine to get a better look at abnormal areas.

Colposcopic examinations are typically done when the results of Pap tests are abnormal. Pap tests are the primary diagnostic tool for detecting precancerous conditions. Doctors use a speculum to widen the opening of the patients vagina to allow the insertion of a plastic spatula and small brush to collect cells from the patients cervix.

These cells are placed in a solution that is then sent to a lab for evaluation. Medical professionals urge women to begin cervical cancer screening at age 21. Women between the ages of 21 to 29 should have Pap tests every three years, while women over age 30 should have Pap and HPV tests every five years until age 65.

If detected early, cervical cancer is highly treatable. In the U.S., screening for cervical cancer has helped doctors reduce the death rate from the illness by more than 50 percent in the last three decades.

Colposcopic examinations are also conducted to examine a sore or wart found on or around the vagina or cervix, to check up on abnormal areas detected by a previous colposcopy, or to examine the cervix for issues if an HPV test finds that a patient has a high-risk form of HPV. Specialized colposcopes are also used to examine women who have been the victims of rape and sexual assault.

Picking a Colposcope

Selecting a device for your practice is an important decision, as this tool is vital to the detection of cancer. The British Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology recommends these criteria for consideration when physicians are purchasing new devices:

  • Price - Devices can run from between $2,000 and $8,000. Medical practices need to understand what theyre getting for the price they are paying and how more expensive devices differ from cheaper alternatives.
  • Optical Quality - Evidence of cancer can be difficult to see, which makes the optical quality provided by your device imperative. Your device should provide superb brightness, clarity, and evenness of illumination, allowing doctors a clear view of the area theyre examining.
  • Magnification - In addition to providing a clear image, your device should provide a range of magnifications, allowing the physician to zoom in and out as needed.
  • Functional design - Manufacturers must counter-balance the arm of the device to facilitate smooth movement and stability when it is used.
  • Ergonomics - Optimal design provides physicians with a tool that they can use comfortably. When physicians are comfortable, they are better able to work and will be more likely to detect minuscule warning signs of cancer. The eyepieces of the device must feel comfortable, and its also recommended that they have diopter adjustment for visual correction.
  • Illumination - The device should provide adequate illumination, even when a filter is used.
  • Ease of maintenance - The device should be easy to perform basic maintenance tasks on, such as changing the lightbulb.
  • Portability - If the device is to be used in more than one location, it will need to be conveniently sized and portable. There are many portable devices of excellent quality on the market.
  • Monitor - Modern devices include video equipment to allow images to be displayed on a monitor. Ensuring your devices monitor is of good quality will enhance its utility to your practice.

History of Colposcopes

Colposcopy was developed by German medical researcher Hans Hinselman in 1925 as a screening tool for cervical cancer. Hinselman believed that endophytic or exophytic lesions of the cervix were warning signs that cervical cancer was developing and that, by detecting these lesions, treatment to forestall the illness could be successful. More research by U.S. doctors highlighted the need for the device, but World War II hindered the further refinement of the device, as dialogue between German and American scientists ceased during the war.

During the time the colposcope was being developed, another important gynecological test for cervical cancer was being developed. In 1943, Dr. George Papanicolaou published findings concerning a method he used to diagnose cervical cancer in women. Papanicolaous method the Pap smear became the primary screening method for detecting cervical cancer and its precursors.

Colposcopy became more widespread after 1953, when Karl Bolten introduced modern methods of colposcopy to the U.S. The tool initially served as a method of identifying women with asymptomatic early invasive disease. Use of the device spread, and colposcopy has become an important tool for the early diagnosis of cervical cancer.

Computer-aided colposcopy has been a major development in the field in the past few decades, as imaging technology and data storage have allowed doctors to store images recorded by the devices with video equipment and manipulate them to get an improved view.

Telecolposcopy is also providing greater convenience in care to women who live in rural areas, as digital images taken in a small town clinic can be examined by a physician miles away in a larger metropolitan area. Telemedicine is a major trend in the medical profession and is helping the industry deal with the shortage of physicians in small towns and rural areas.

Clinics and hospitals searching for colposcopes need a reliable partner they can depend upon for fast access to the best products. Medical Device Depot is an online store for top quality medical supplies and equipment, including gynecological equipment.

Medical Device Depot service representatives are well-trained and knowledgeable about the companys products and can answer all questions about specific colposcopes you may be interested in purchasing. Shop Medical Device Depot today and learn how convenient and cost-effective shopping online for brand name medical equipment can be.