Fallopian Tube Obstruction

Definition - What does Fallopian Tube Obstruction mean?

A fallopian tube obstruction is the blockage of the fallopian tubes that then blocks sperm from getting to the egg, interferes with the fusion of the sperm with the egg in the tube, and/or hampers the passage of the fertilized egg to the uterus for implantation. Fallopian tube obstruction is, therefore, a major cause of female infertility, representing about 30% of the infertility cases in women and is known as tubal factor infertility.

FertilitySmarts explains Fallopian Tube Obstruction

The following factors can cause fallopian tube obstruction

  • Scar tissue/pelvic adhesions
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Sexually transmitted infection such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, or genital tuberculosis
  • Intrauterine contraceptive device, only if accompanied by the development of an infection in the first 20 days after its insertion
  • Endometriosis, endometrial proliferation or hyperplasia
  • As a complication after abdominal surgery

Blocked fallopian tubes usually don’t cause symptoms except when a woman tries to conceive but fails to do so. Sometimes, the blocked fallopian tube may be filled with fluid. This condition referred to as hydrosalpinx and causes the enlargement of the blocked tube that can give rise to pain on one side of the abdomen. If fallopian tube obstruction is due to a condition like endometriosis, heavy and painful periods may show up.

In women suspected of having blocked tubes, the doctor will usually perform a specialized x-ray procedure called hysterosalpingogram, or HSG. This test involves advancing a tiny tube through the cervix and instilling a dye into the uterus. The doctor will take x-rays of your pelvic area while the dye should normally be seen spilling into the fallopian tubes. However, if the tube is blocked, the dye fails to get through the tubes.

If the results are not confirmatory, the doctor may also perform a different test like chromopertubation, in which the dye is inserted into the uterus as well as the fallopian tubes. This test is done during laparoscopy so that the doctor can visualize the patency or openness of the fallopian tubes. If the fallopian tubes are found to be blocked by scar tissue or adhesions, laparoscopic surgery also can be used to remove and divide the adhesions and open the tubes.

If the fallopian tube is damaged, the doctor may remove it surgically, a procedure termed as salpingectomy. The doctor may also create an opening into the blocked fallopian tube without removing it via a procedure called salpingostomy.

For severely damaged fallopian tubes that cannot be operated and for conditions in which tubal factor infertility co-exists with another fertility factor, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is the only option available to treat infertility. The chances of pregnancy vary with the treatment method used and the degree and the site of blockage. Success rates are lower if the fallopian tubes are blocked near the ovary.

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