The team has carried out the first hysteroscopic sterilisations in Scotland, allowing patients to undergo a non-surgical sterilisation.

The procedure, which uses the Essure method of permanent birth control, involves inserting micro-insert coils into the fallopian tubes, creating a blockage which prevents sperm from reaching an egg.

Four patients at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh's Reproductive Health Outpatient Department became the first in Scotland to undergo the procedure on 22 February, as part of a pilot project.

The department has now carried out over 20 procedures, and the project is to be evaluated to assess its success.

Until now, sterilisation has been performed laparoscopically through abdominal incision, under a general anaesthetic. The procedure usually leaves patients with two small abdominal wounds and recovering for up to a week.

Hysteroscopic Sterilisation by Essure is a method of permanent birth control, which does not require incision or general anaesthetic.

The process is carried out by placing a small tube with a camera on the end (a hysteroscope) through the vagina and cervix into the uterus, and inserting tiny coils into the fallopian tubes.

During the next three months, tissue grows in and around the micro-insert coils, thereby blocking the fallopian tubes, and preventing sperm from reaching an egg.

Dr Sue Milne, Associate Specialist in Reproductive Medicine at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, said:

"Hysteroscopic sterilisation can be carried out without patients being admitted to hospital, and is completed within around 30 minutes.
"The new procedure means there is no longer the need for an overnight stay in hospital and recovery is more rapid."

Audrey Burnside, Clinical Nurse Manager, Lothian Gynaecological Services, added:

"This procedure is a landmark achievement in female sterilisation as it allows women to undergo sterilisation with minimum pain and disruption to their lives.
"We are delighted to become the first centre in Scotland to offer the procedure, and we hope to be able to offer it on a more permanent basis within the next year."