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A hysterosalpingography is a gynecological-imaging procedure that typically is performed to determine if the fallopian tubes are patent and to detect abnormalities in the shape of the uterine cavity. The hysterosalpingography procedure usually is done in an outpatient setting and takes about 30 minutes. In order to prevent disruption of an early pregnancy, the test generally is conducted after the monthly menstruation has ended, but before the beginning of ovulation.
Hysterosalpingographys frequently are performed in cases of infertility. Blocked fallopian tubes from scar tissue and polyps, or growths in the uterine cavity, may show up on the test. There usually is no bowel preparation or fasting required before the test; however, the physician may recommend that the patient take prophylactic antibiotics before the procedure to reduce the risk of infection. The patient is monitored for 30 minutes after the procedure to make sure bleeding is under control and no allergic reactions occur.
The hysterosalpingography test typically is performed with the patient lying under an imaging device called a fluoroscope, which uses real-time x-ray equipment to capture live images of tubes and the inside of the uterus. A radiologist or gynecologist places a cannula into the cervical opening and fills the uterine cavity with contrast dye. The dye outlines the fallopian tubes, then spills out if they are patent. Abnormalities of the fallopian tubes or uterine cavity can be visualized on the monitor.
After the hysterosalpingography procedure, the patient usually may resume activities, though it may be recommended that she refrain from sexual relations for a couple of days. This procedure may cause mild to moderate uterine cramps that could last for several hours. An over-the-counter pain reliever may be effective in treating post-procedure pain.
Complications of the hysterosalpingography procedure might include infection or fainting. Although rare, the patient may experience dizziness or feel light-headed during or after the procedure. Another rare complication may be an iodine allergy – the procedure uses an iodine-based contrast dye. Radiation exposure from the hysterosalpingography test is low; however, the procedure typically should not be done if pregnancy is a possibility. Spotting may occur for up to two days following the procedure, but heavy bleeding usually is uncommon.
The hysterosalpingogram films usually are available immediately after the test. This could allow the doctor to discuss the findings with the patient. It may take a few days for the radiologist to review the x-rays and submit his final interpretation.