What is Fallopian Tube Recanalization?
A common cause of female infertility is blockage of the Fallopian tubes that connect the ovaries to the uterus. These tubes normally carry eggs from the ovaries to a location where they can meet with sperm and become fertilized, but if the Fallopian tubes have become blocked or narrowed this can prevent pregnancy. Causes of this blockage range from an accumulation of mucus or debris to scar tissue left by pelvic inflammatory disease to damage caused by STDs.
Whatever the cause of the blockage, Fallopian Tube Recanalization is a non-surgical, minimally-invasive procedure performed by interventional radiologists that can successfully treat and open blocked Fallopian tubes. In the procedure, a tiny catheter is introduced into the uterus and a contrast agent (dye) is injected so that X-ray images can pinpoint the blockages. When they are located, a second catheter is threaded into the Fallopian tube to open the blockage.
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The procedure is most often performed between day six and day eleven of the menstrual cycle, after menses and before ovulation. It is a minimally-invasive procedure that can be performed in an outpatient setting and requires no incisions, although mild sedation is often provided to help the patient feel more comfortable.
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What to Expect
A speculum is inserted into the vagina to allow doctors access to the cervix, and then a catheter is passed through the cervix into the Fallopian tubes. If the Fallopian tube is found to be blocked, a small guidewire is advanced through the tube to open it up. The procedure takes about 30 minutes, but the doctors often have the patient remain in the recovery area for 2 to 4 hours prior to going home.
Complications from Fallopian tube recanalization are extremely rare, and pregnancy rates following the procedure are approximately 33%, as long as the unblocked tubes are found to be normal and there are no indications of tubal diseases.