The fallopian tubes are tubular structures that are attached to the right and left sides of the uterus. Each tube is about the size of a pencil and consists of a lumen surrounded by smooth muscle. The lumen is trumpet shaped, the end attached to the uterus is narrow and the end adjacent to the ovaries is wide.
The fallopian tubes have three important functions:
- picking up the eggs (oocytes) from the ovary
- fertilizing the oocytes
- transporting the fertilized ovum into the uterus
The fallopian tubes can be evaluated with a hysterosalpingogram or a laparoscopy combined with chromotubation (passing dye through the tubes).
An HSG is a procedure to test for blocked fallopian tubes, polyps, fibroids, adhesions, or scar tissue within the uterus. For this test, a physician introduces contrast dye through the cervix into the uterus while observing with fluoroscopy (live X-ray).
This procedure is done at the Duke Fertility Center and your provider will briefly review the results with you following the procedure. It is always comforting for you to be accompanied by a family member or friend; however, because it is an x-ray procedure, they will have to wait outside during the HSG. You will not be sedated for this procedure and can drive home.
How Testing for Blocked Fallopian Tubes Works
Since X-rays normally pass through soft tissue, a contrast agent must be used to show the cavity of the uterus and the fallopian tubes. The contrast agent is often referred to as the “dye,” although it is a clear liquid. By blocking the X-rays, the film has areas that are not exposed and remain clear. The tissues can readily absorb the contrast agent or dye, so the liquid that does not come out at the completion of the test will pass out in the urine within several hours.
Preparing for your Appointment
You should call while you are having your menstrual period to schedule the HSG for the week immediately after your menses, ideally between cycle days 5 and 12. It is recommended that you have a small lunch and take 600 to 800 mg of ibuprofen one hour before the procedure. If you cannot take ibuprofen, 500 mg of Tylenol would be helpful to reduce cramping during the procedure.