What Is Hysterosalpingography (HSG)?
Hysterosalpingography (HSG) is a procedure used to determine the fertility of women who want to become pregnant. Since this test isn’t well-known, many patients tend to have a lot of questions and concerns at the beginning of their fertility treatments.
What is hysterosalpingography?
Hysterosalpingography, also called uterosalpingography, is an X-ray of a woman’s fallopian tubes and uterus. It’s performed through a special form of X-ray called fluoroscopy, using radiographic contrast medium.
This procedure exposes a body part to a small dose of ionizing radiation, producing images of the inside of the body. Other medical tests that doctors tend to request alongside hysterosalpingography are ultrasound and hormonal profile.
This procedure makes it possible to see internal organs in motion. It fills the uterus and fallopian tubes with a water-soluble contrast medium. The radiologist can use the fluoroscopy to observe and assess the anatomy and function of these organs.
What is it used for?
Hysterosalpingography is used to investigate why spontaneous abortions (miscarriages), which arise from uterus abnormalities, occur and to check on severe tumor masses, adhesions, and uterine fibroids (if the woman suffers from them). It also allows checking on:
- Blocked fallopian tubes due to infections or fibrosis
- Tubal ligation
- Closure of the fallopian tubes due to a sterilization process
- Reopening of the fallopian tubes after an obstruction due to a condition or sterilization
This procedure isn’t recommended if the patient has an active inflammatory condition. Therefore, it’s important for the doctor to know if there’s a chronic pelvic infection or an untreated sexually transmitted disease.
Fluoroscopy uses a continuous X-ray beam, creating a chain of consecutive images projected on a fluorescent screen or on a monitor.
It’s used with a contrast medium that manages to clearly define the area to be examined by making it look dark. This procedure allows the doctor to observe joints and internal organs in motion. It also captures images without movement, storing them electronically.
How you should prepare for it
- A week after menstruation and a week before ovulation is the best time for hysterosalpingography.
- You shouldn’t get it if you have an active inflammatory disease.
- One day before the procedure, doctors request the use of a laxative or enema to clean out the bowels so that the uterus and surrounding structures can be seen clearly.
- It’s recommended to inform your doctor about any medications you’re taking or if you suffer from any allergies.
During and after the procedure
This procedure can cause cramps or pain when the catheter is placed and the contrast medium is injected. In addition, it may cause slight peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity) irritation, which is why it can lead to generalized lower abdominal pain. However, the pain tends to be minimal and not last long.
Most women experience slight vaginal bleeding for a few days after the procedure, which is normal.
The benefits of hysterosalpingography
This is a relatively short and minimally invasive procedure with few complications. It can generate valuable information on a set of abnormalities that cause infertility or difficulties preventing the fetus from being carried to term. In addition, sometimes it can even open blocked fallopian tubes, thus allowing the patient to become pregnant.
It’s also important to note that, after performing the X-ray examination, no radiation remains in the patient’s body. The key is to consult your doctor if you have any concerns before the procedure.
It’s important to learn more about all the tests and procedures that exist today. However, when in doubt, it’s essential to talk to a specialist.