The Evolution of the Vaginal Speculum

Medical innovations have the opportunity to transform the institution of medicine, and more importantly, individual patient lives. Specific technology, equipment, or devices can have long-term impact on the way medical examinations are completed. Join Cyalume Medical as we review the evolution of one of medicine’s oldest medical devices: the vaginal speculum.

The Birth of the Vaginal Speculum

The original vaginal speculum was created during the 1800s by James Marion Sims. The speculum was described as having two pewter, or metal, blades to separate the patient’s vaginal walls. This original design was conceptualized with reusability in mind, which meant the speculum needed to be sterilized between uses. Additionally, the speculum would open and close when a medical professional adjusted its small screw mechanism. Although it was clunky, noisy, and cold to the touch, clinicians trusted the original speculum’s design because it got the job done; seemingly, that was the only qualification that mattered at the time.

Over 150 years later, the metal vaginal speculum has not seen many drastic changes. The only notable difference would be that metal speculums are now fashioned using surgical stainless steel rather than pewter. Reusable speculums still need to be thoroughly sterilized before and after coming into contact with one single patient.

The Introduction of Lighting During Examinations

Clinicians needed some sort of lighting to help facilitate a clear vaginal examination. Almost half a century after the invention of the vaginal speculum, clinicians began using electric lighting fixtures to illuminate examination areas. Later, battery powered lighting was introduced to clinicians needing mobile lighting. During the late 20th century, LED lighting became a viable alternative to traditional batteries. Whether clinicians opted for electric fixtures or fixtures powered by alkaline batteries, lithium batteries, or LED batteries, all lighting options still needed to be routinely cleaned and disinfected. They also required constant adjustment to maximize lighting potential and careful storage when not in use.

The Vaginal Speculum Today

Today, medical device companies are offering a safe, efficient, and cost-effective alternative to the traditional vaginal speculum. That alternative is the single-use speculum. A single-use medical device is used once on a single patient and immediately discarded after use. No pre-sterilization or post-sterilization of the device is necessary to facilitate a safe examination. These medical devices typically come individually packaged in material safe for storing, sorting, and sterile use. Single-use speculums are universally preferred by clinicians because they significantly decrease risks of cross-contamination, they promote streamlined vaginal examinations, and they are considered economical options against reusable speculums.

Thanks to Cyalume Medical’s SpecuLume EZ, the vaginal speculum has been able to evolve into one of medicine’s most innovative advancements. The SpecuLume EZ is now the first single-use vaginal speculum to provide chemiluminescent illumination. Chemiluminescence does not rely on any external power sources, and it is designed to provide consistent results regardless of setting or access to electricity. This disposable device is recyclable and safe for the environment.

Gone are the days of having to rely on outdated medical devices. Cyalume Medical’s SpecuLume EZ is here to transform the way vaginal examinations are conducted, ultimately improving both the clinician experience and the patient experience. Learn more about the SpecuLume EZ by visiting Cyalume Medical.

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