Similar to a hysteroscopy, wherein a scope is inserted into the uterus to determine uterine health, a hysterosalpingogram is a diagnostic tool used to determine the health of the fallopian tubes. When a woman is having trouble conceiving, she will likely have this test done to ensure her tubes are functioning properly.

How Is A Hysterosalpingogram Done?

The hysterosalpingogram is an x-ray, and because of the implications to a pregnancy, the test is usually done between the seventh and tenth days of the menstrual cycle, to be sure the woman is not pregnant at the time of testing. Performed by a radiologist in the x-ray department of a hospital or clinic, the procedure does not take a long time. A water-based dye is injected by means of a catheter through the cervix to allow the specialist to view the uterus and fallopian tubes. If there is no blockage in the tubes, then the liquid passes through and out the ends of the fallopian tubes into the pelvic cavity.

Several x-rays are taken as the dye is being injected and the woman moves slightly in various positions to allow for viewing of all the organs. As many as 50 to 60 images are taken of the reproductive organs and an assessment is made. Since the images are produced immediately, it is possible in some cases to get the results of the hysterosalpingogram at the time of the test.

What Information Does The HSG Provide?

The hysterosalpingogram is used to determine the health of the fallopian tubes and to establish whether there is any type of blockage. If there is a problem with a blocked tube, the dye will help the specialist know the type of blockages that are present. A blockage at the point where the fallopian tube meets the uterus is called a proximal block and if it is near the end of the fallopian tube, it is known as a distal blockage.

The hysterosalpingogram can also be used to identify other types of problems such as polyps, fibroid tumors, scar tissue, and partial blockages. Fallopian tube defects can be discovered as can endometriosis. If a woman has a tubal ligation and wants to reverse it, then an HSG may be used to determine the type of tubal ligation done. By discovering whether the tubes were cut, blocked, or clamped, the surgeon can determine an effective course of action before surgery.

What Happens After?  Are There Any Risks?

After the HSG has been done, a woman may experience some cramping and vaginal discharge for several days as the dye leaves her body. There may also be some light bleeding. However, if the bleeding becomes heavy, if the pain increases rather than decreasing, or there is a fever, the doctor should be advised. Many doctors prescribe an antibiotic after the HSG to ward off infection.

If a woman is allergic to dyes, it is important she advise the technician or doctor before the procedure. This may mean a different type of diagnostic test will be used, one that does not require an injection of dye. Other complications may include pelvic infection, fainting, or puncture of the uterus.