Distal Tubal Blockage

Definition - What does Distal Tubal Blockage mean?

A distal tubal blockage is the blockage of the fallopian tube at its distal end, which is the outermost, wider, free end that holds the ovary in position. The condition doesn’t usually cause any symptoms, but severely impairs the reproductive potential of a woman.

FertilitySmarts explains Distal Tubal Blockage

A distal tubal blockage is most often caused by a sexually transmitted infection called chlamydia.

The fallopian tubes end in finger-like structures called fimbriae, which capture the egg released from the ovary. The sperm then has to travel to and fertilize the egg waiting in the distal part of the tube. However, if the outermost end of the tube is blocked, the sperm won’t be able to travel forward and meet the egg. As a result, infertility ensues.

Moreover, the secretions of the fallopian tube need to drain out of the end of the tube. When this end is blocked, fluid will build up in the tube, leading to a condition called hydrosalpinx. This further impacts a woman’s ability to get pregnant.

A woman presenting with an inability to get pregnant is usually tested for tubal blockage. For this, the doctor carries out an X-ray procedure called hysterosalpingography (HSG) to identify the site and degree of blockage. Usually, if only one tube is blocked, the woman may still be able to conceive as the patent (open) tube with a normal ovary is likely to have a normal function. With both the tubes blocked, infertility is inevitable and intervention is required to achieve pregnancy

The treatment of distal tubal blockage relies on the severity of the damage or the fluid-buildup. Severely damaged tubes are at best surgically removed before attempting to conceive via IVF. Mildly blocked tubes can be unblocked and repaired via surgery. If the finger-like ends of the fallopian tube are damaged, they can be repaired by sewing them back together. After tubal repair, IVF can be tried with a modest success rate. Because there is still a high risk of ectopic pregnancy following tubal repair, the doctor will set up regular visits until a normal pregnancy can be detected.

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