The speculum is a medical tool made of plastic or metal. This tool is used to hold open the walls of orifices like the nasal cavity and the vagina so that an examination can be performed. A speculum may also be used during minor surgical procedures or the removal of foreign bodies from a nasal cavity.
The Pederson speculum is a vaginal speculum used during pelvic examinations. This flat, narrow speculum is designed for use in women who have narrow vaginal canals. Narrow vaginal canals can be caused by traumatic injuries and scar tissue. They are also found in elderly women and women who have never had sexual intercourse. Using this narrow speculum can eliminate some of the discomfort of a pelvic exam and make it easier to visualize internal structures to ensure they are normal in size and shape. The Pederson speculum is available in metal and plastic.
The Graves speculum is a vaginal speculum that is available in sizes small, medium and large. The bills of the Graves speculum are wider than the bills of the Pederson speculum. The sides of this speculum are also curved. According to the University of Washington, this type of speculum is best used in women who have had sexual intercourse. This is because the vaginal canal may be wider in sexually active women, making the wider bills of the Graves speculum necessary to visualize the cervix and other internal structures of the pelvis. The Graves speculum also is available in plastic and metal varieties.
The pediatric speculum is a shorter speculum that can be used in patients who have never had sexual intercourse and, as a result, have very narrow vaginal canals. Despite its name, the pediatric speculum is generally not used to conduct pediatric vaginal examinations. Use of a speculum in a pediatric exam could be traumatic for both the child and the parent. Dr Susan Pokorny, a pediatric gynecologist in Houston, Texas, indicates that the pediatric speculum can stretch the hymen.
The nasal speculum is a useful tool for visualizing the inside of the nasal cavity and other body orifices. It can be particularly useful for removing foreign bodies inserted into the nasal cavity by young children. Nasal specula are available in stainless steel and disposable plastic varieties. While the stainless steel models are sturdy and long-lasting, they are expensive and must be washed and sterilized after each use. This adds to the duties of a medical assistant or nurse, and is not practical for emergency departments or busy physician practices. The disposable plastic model is used on one patient and disposed of immediately after an examination or medical procedure. Nasal specula must be ordered by a licensed medical professional, as they are not available for sale to the general public.