Checking the Fallopian Tubes
Do the Fallopian Tubes work?
The fallopian tubes are essential to normal conception, and therefore investigating for the fallopian tubes is a standard part of any fertility investigation. There are several ways to do this, and in fact, the first point might in fact be pelvic ultrasound. A standard pelvic ultrasound, however, is not going to be able to identify if the fallopian tubes look normal or indeed are working normally.
And therefore there are more specialized tests that we use infertility to try to find out if the fallopian tubes, the very crucial part of the jigsaw are in fact working normally.
Commonly undertaken in fertility settings is an ultrasound HyCoSy (Hysterosalpingo Contrast Sonography). This involves placing a small catheter inside the womb, infusing sterile foam bubbles under ultrasound guidance, which flow through the womb cavity and out through the fallopian tubes. These fallopian tubes fluoresce absolutely beautifully in the pelvis if the tubes are working normally. There are limitations to ultrasound however, and no test is perfect. And so if the, the answer to whether fallopian tubes are indeed working cannot be found by ultrasound, here are of course other tests.
Hysterosalpingogram is in fact an x-ray test of the pelvis where a catheter inside the womb infuses a radio opaque dye. X-ray images are taken serially as the dye is infused through the womb and the outline of the tubes again can be seen. This is also very good in under understanding whether the womb cavity has a normal shape to it.
Sometimes, both of these imaging modalities do not work and the patient has to undergo surgery. Laparoscopic keyhole surgery is really the easiest and gold standard way to check whether the fallopian tubes are working, but it’s not used routinely in all patients, and it’s generally reserved for patients that have known pelvic problems such as previous surgery, known endometriosis, or indeed infection of the previously of the fallopian tubes.
So all of these three modalities can be used by your doctor to work out if your fallopian tubes are working normally.