Ashley Maryland's two medical procedures done to figure out why she was having trouble becoming pregnant were like night and day.
“It was awful,” Maryland, a Vicksburg resident, said of the hysterosalpingogram, or HSG, performed there in 2013. “It was overwhelming pain, and there was nothing I could do. It was the worst pain ever.”
But her most recent procedure, performed in 2015 by Dr. Preston Parry, University of Mississippi Medical Center associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, was anything but.
“I anticipated it hurting. I prepared myself for it. But it didn't hurt at all, and I got to watch it on a screen,” Maryland said. “It was as lovely as it could be for that type procedure.”
Not just patients, but their doctors despise HSG, a test that's been used for decades to examine a woman's fallopian tubes to see if they're blocked. It uses a combination of X-rays and dyes to take a picture of the uterus and typically is done in a hospital. Parry, a reproductive endocrinology specialist and chief of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, has come up with a technique that minimizes discomfort while also being more accurate, faster, cheaper, safer and convenient.
It's called the Parryscope, not a piece of equipment, but instead a specific procedure that replaces HSG. During HSG, a physician inserts either a stiff or flexible tube into a woman's cervix on the way to her uterus. Dye is passed through the inserted tube; if the fallopian tubes are open, the dye will flow through, but if they're blocked, it won't.
Patients don't receive anesthesia, painkillers or drugs to deaden the affected area.
“There are so many women who say it's the most painful thing they've been through,” Parry said. “Women have told me it was worse than childbirth.”
What's different about Parry's procedure: He uses a narrow, flexible fiber-optic camera, saline and air to determine if the saline and air bubbles can enter the fallopian tubes and if the uterus is receptive to pregnancy. Dye isn't used at all. “If the air bubbles don't go in, the sperm may have trouble getting in, too,” Parry said.
“The camera is the width of a coffee straw,” he said. “We use technology so small and gentle that the speculum for a Pap smear is typically worse.”
During her first procedure, Maryland said, “one of my tubes was closed, and they forced the dye through it. It was 100 times more painful than the Parryscope. I'll never forget it.”