Hysterosalpingography is an x-ray examination of a woman's uterus and fallopian tubes that uses a special form of x-ray called fluoroscopy and a contrast material.
Fluoroscopy is a special x-ray technique that makes it possible to see internal organs in motion. During a hysterosalpingogram, the uterus and fallopian tubes are filled with a contrast material and the radiologist/physician is able to use fluoroscopy to view and assess their anatomy and function.
Hysterosalpingography is primarily used to examine women who have difficulty becoming pregnant by allowing the radiologist to evaluate the shape and structure of the uterus, the openness of the fallopian tubes, and any scarring within the uterine or peritoneal (abdominal) cavity.
The procedure can be used to investigate repeated miscarriages that result from congenital or acquired abnormalities of the uterus and to determine the presence and severity of these abnormalities, including:
Hysterosalpingography is also used to evaluate the openness of the fallopian tubes, and to monitor the effects of tubal surgery, including:
The hysterosalpingography procedure is performed within the first 10 days after the start of menstruation but before ovulation to make certain that you are not pregnant during the exam.
This procedure should not be performed if you have an active inflammatory condition. You should notify your physician or technologist if you have a chronic pelvic infection or an untreated sexually transmitted disease at the time of the procedure.
Prior to the procedure, you may be given a mild sedative or over-the-counter medication to minimize any potential discomfort. Some physicians prescribe an antibiotic prior to and/or after the procedure.
You should inform your physician of any medications being taken and if there are any allergies, especially to iodinated contrast materials. Also inform your doctor about recent illnesses or other medical conditions.
You will be asked to remove some of your clothes and wear a gown during the exam. You may also be asked to remove jewelry, removable dental appliances, eye glasses and any metal objects or clothing that might interfere with the x-ray images.
Women should always inform their physician and x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant. Many imaging tests are not performed during pregnancy so as not to expose the fetus to radiation. If an x-ray is necessary, precautions will be taken to minimize radiation exposure to the baby.
This examination is usually done on an outpatient basis.
The procedure is like a gynecological exam. The patient is positioned on her back on the exam table, with her knees bent or her feet held placed at the end of the table and a speculum is inserted into the vagina. The cervix is then cleansed, and a catheter is inserted into the cervix. The patient is carefully positioned underneath the fluoroscopy camera. The contrast material then begins to fill the uterine cavity, fallopian tubes and peritoneal cavity through the catheter and fluoroscopic images are taken.
In some cases, if certain abnormalities are encountered, the patient will be asked to rest and wait up to 30 minutes so that a delayed image can be obtained. This delayed image may provide clues to a patient's condition that the original images with contrast material do not. On occasion, an x-ray will be taken the next day to ensure that there is no scarring surrounding the ovaries.
When the procedure is complete, the catheter will be removed and the patient will be allowed to sit up.
The hysterosalpingogram is usually completed within 30 minutes.
This exam should cause only discomfort.
There may be slight discomfort and cramping when the catheter is placed and the contrast material is injected, but it should not last long. There may also be slight irritation of the peritoneum, the lining of the abdominal cavity, causing generalized lower abdominal pain, but this should also be minimal and not long lasting. Most women experience vaginal spotting for a few days after the examination, which is normal.
A radiologist, a physician specifically trained to supervise and interpret radiology examinations, will analyze the images and send a signed report to your primary care or referring physician, who will discuss the results with you.
Follow-up examinations may be necessary. Your doctor will explain the exact reason why another exam is requested. Sometimes a follow-up exam is done because a potential abnormality needs further evaluation with additional views or a special imaging technique. A follow-up examination may also be necessary so that any change in a known abnormality can be monitored over time. Follow-up examinations are sometimes the best way to see if treatment is working or if a finding is stable or changed over time.