A pyosalpinx refers to the presence of pus in one fallopian tube. When both tubes are affected with the accumulation of pus inside, the term used is pyosalpinges. The fallopian tubes are important structures in the female reproductive system, where eggs from the ovaries pass through on their way toward the uterus.
A pyosalpinx frequently develops in women of reproductive age, usually between the ages of 15 to 49 years old. It often occurs as a consequence of infections in the reproductive tract, such as pelvic inflammatory diseases (PID). Pelvic inflammatory diseases are usually caused by sexually transmitted bacteria, like Neisseria gonorrhea and Chlamydia trachomatis. Other bacteria capable of causing PID and pyosalpinx include streptococcus and staphylococcus. These bacteria can also be introduced into the reproductive tract during childbirth, abortion procedures, or with the use of intrauterine devices (IUDs).
Infections may start in the vagina, and progress up to the cervix, uterus, and to one or both fallopian tubes if not treated early. The response of the body to the presence of bacteria in the fallopian tube is to send white blood cells to the area to fight the offending organisms. Salpingitis, or inflammation of the fallopian tube, usually occurs during this process. As the infection progresses, pus formation inside the fallopian tube usually takes place, resulting in a pyosalpinx.
Symptoms include pelvic pain, vaginal discharge, fever, and weakness. Women experiencing these symptoms are often referred to gynecology clinics for proper evaluation and prompt treatment. Gynecologists, doctors specializing in diseases of women's reproductive system, may need a pelvic ultrasound or computed tomography (CT) scan of the pelvic area to visualize the fallopian tubes and other reproductive parts to look for the presence of any abnormality. A hyterosalpingogram, a procedure in which a contrast dye is introduced to the uterus and fallopian tubes to make them more visible on x-rays, may also be performed. The condition is often treated using antibiotics to fight the infection.
A pyosalpinx can sometimes rupture due to trauma or other causes. When this happens, the pus can spread inside the abdominal cavity and cause infection and inflammation, which generally manifests with the sudden onset of severe abdominal pain and fever. If not diagnosed and treated promptly, a ruptured pyosalpinx can cause the spread of bacteria in the bloodstream, and may become a life threatening condition.