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A salpingectomy is surgical removal of a fallopian tube. The fallopian tubes are part of the reproductive system in women and form the needed connection between the ovaries and the uterus. Sometimes disease is present in one or both of the tubes, or other conditions like fluid build-up or ectopic pregnancy damages a single tube. In these instances and in other circumstances, salpingectomy could be considered. Occasionally it's necessary to remove both tubes, which is called a bilateral version of the procedure.
The basic procedure for a salpingectomy is to use laparoscopy. This creates a tiny incision, which allows removal of the tube. Under certain circumstances, a larger incision is required, and laparotomy or stomach incision is necessary instead. Patients can’t always know ahead of time what incision to expect since a doctor may have to change his/her mind based on conditions found during surgery. It is fair to state that laparoscopic removal is more common, however, and that some women might expect to go home on the day of their surgery or could spend a few days in the hospital recovering first.
As mentioned, there can be a number of reasons why doctors might recommend a salpingectomy. In an ectopic pregnancy, significant damage to the fallopian tube may occur, and removal of the tube would be the safest option. However, sometimes an ectopic pregnancy won’t have damaged the tube significantly and a doctor can instead perform a salpingostomy, which makes a tiny incision in the tube to remove the misplaced pregnancy. Doctors may definitely take into account a woman’s desire for future children, and could strive to perform a salpingostomy if the patient still wants to be able to have children.
This does not mean that a salpingectomy necessarily causes infertility. It will reduce it some and reduction may be greater if an ovary has to be removed too. Yet, some women may have conditions that are reducing fertility and that make pregnancy more favorable if a tube removal is performed. The condition hydrosalpinx causes fluid to build up in a fallopian tube and this may minimize likelihood of in vitro fertilization (IVF) working. Removal of the affected fallopian tube actually increases chances that IVF will work for these women.
Other conditions where this surgery might be necessary or useful include in certain forms of ovarian or uterine cancer, and potentially for things like endometriosis. When the ovaries are removed as part of this surgery, it is usually given a name that reflects this, and may be more commonly referred to as salpingo-oophorectomy.