The Ins and Outs of Hysterosalpingograms
If you’ve had trouble getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term, your doctor may recommend a hysterosalpingogram to help detect any issues.
What is a hysterosalpingogram?
A hysterosalpingogram is a procedure that uses a real-time type of X-ray to examine your fallopian tubes (structures that transport eggs from the ovaries to the uterus) and uterus (womb). It uses a contrast dye that a radiologist (a doctor who specializes in radiology) can watch move through your reproductive system on a video rather than a still image.
What are hysterosalpingograms used for?
This type of test is often ordered if you’ve had trouble getting pregnant or have had problems carrying multiple pregnancies to term. It allows the radiologist to check for problems such as tumors, polyps, scar tissue, fibroids, or structural abnormalities in your uterus or blockages in your fallopian tubes.
It may also be used to check to see that a tubal ligation (a procedure that closes the fallopian tubes) successfully closed your tubes or that a reversal of this procedure was successful after it’s been performed.
What happens during the procedure?
This procedure is similar to a gynecological exam. You’ll lie down on your back on an exam table with your knees bent or your feet in stirrups. You’ll be under an X-ray imaging device called a fluoroscope, which will take the video images.
Your doctor will hold your vagina open with a speculum and will then cleanse your cervix. A thin tube containing a liquid with iodine in it will be gently inserted into your uterus. As the liquid flows through your reproductive system, your doctor will be able to see the outline of your uterus and fallopian tubes and see how the fluid moves through them.
How should you prepare for the procedure?
If you find gynecological exams to be painful, your doctor may suggest you take pain medication about an hour before your procedure. You may also be asked to take an antibiotic to reduce the risk of infection. A hysterosalpingogram is usually performed from a few days to a week after you’ve had your period, since this ensures you’re not pregnant and reduces your risk of infection.
What can you expect after the procedure?
You may have some symptoms such as vaginal spotting, cramps, stomach discomfort, or dizziness. Use a pad rather than a tampon if needed for vaginal bleeding so you’ll reduce your risk of infection. Let your doctor know if you have any signs of an infection, including a fever, foul-smelling vaginal discharge, or severe pain. After your procedure, your doctor will explain the results and recommend any necessary tests or other treatment.
What are the benefits and risks of the procedure?
The procedure is generally quite safe and allows your doctor to check for problems with your reproductive system or make sure a tubal ligation or its reversal procedure are successful after they’ve been performed. It does have some rare risks, such as an infection, injury to the uterus, or allergic reaction to the contrast dye.
To make an appointment for a hysterosalpingogram, contact Neighborhood Radiology Services today. Our top priority is delivering exceptional care with a patient-centered focus.