A blockage of the fallopian tubes or tubal difficulties account for around 10-20% of female infertility problems. If a couple are failing to conceive naturally after 12 months of regular menstrual cycles and sexual intercourse with a normal semen sample then it may be necessary to check whether the fallopian tubes are open and working. There are a few ways to perform this test.
A Hysterosalpingo Contrast Sonography (HyCoSy) is a test performed using ultrasound to check for fallopian tube patency. The test is performed with the patient awake and lying flat on a bed. A small catheter is inserted through the cervix and inside the womb and a sterile foam liquid is injected slowly. The foam bubbles show up on the ultrasound scan and diagnose whether the tubes are open or not. It may be painful and has a small risk of infection. The scan can also assess the structure of the womb cavity and the ovaries so is a great way to assess the structure of the female reproductive tract.
A Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is a test that uses x-rays to take pictures of the female pelvis. A small catheter is inserted through the cervix and into the womb and a sterile radio-opaque liquid is injected slowly. The x-rays are taken as the liquid flows through the womb and gives a clear outline of the womb cavity and fallopian tubes. Any abnormality in shape to the womb can easily be seen and if tubes are blocked this will also be seen.
Lastly a keyhole surgical operation is sometimes required to investigate female infertility. Under general anaesthetic a telescope is passed through the belly button inside the abdomen. The surgeon can clearly examine the womb, ovaries and fallopian tubes while the patient is asleep. At the same times as this operation takes place tubal patency can be confirmed by passing dye from the womb back through the fallopian tubes. The dye is seen to flow out of the tubes into the pelvis if the tubes are open and working