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Hysterosalpingography

Definition

Hysterosalpingography is a special x-ray using dye to look at the womb (uterus) and fallopian tubes.

Alternative Names

HSG; Uterosalpingography; Hysterogram; Uterotubography

How the test is performed

This test is done in a radiology department. You will lie on a table beneath an x-ray machine. You will place your feet in stirrups, like you do during a pelvic exam. A tool called a speculum is placed into the vagina.

After the cervix is cleaned, the health care provider places a thin tube (catheter) through the cervix. Dye, called contrast, flows through this tube, filling the womb and fallopian tubes. X-rays are taken. The dye makes these areas easier to see on x-rays .

How to prepare for the test

Your doctor may give you antibiotics to take before and after the test. This helps prevent infections. You may also be given medicines to take the day of the procedure to help you relax.

The test will often be scheduled a few days or week after you start your period to make sure you are not pregnant. Doing it at this time also reduces the risk for infection.

Tell your doctor or nurse if you have had an allergic reaction to contrast dye before.

You can eat and drink normally before the test.

How the test will feel

You may have some discomfort when the speculum is inserted into the vagina. This is similar to a pelvic exam with a Pap smear. 

Some women have cramps during or after the test, like those you may get during your period.

You may have some pain if the dye leaks out of the tubes, or if the tubes are blocked.

Why the test is performed

This test is done to check for blockages in your fallopian tubes or other problems in the womb and tubes. It is often done as part of an infertility examination.  It may also be done after you have your tubes tied to confirm that the tubes are fully blocked.

Normal Values

A normal result means everything looks normal. There are no defects.

Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

What abnormal results mean

Abnormal results may be due to:

  • Developmental disorders of the structures of the uterus or fallopian tubes
  • Scar tissue (adhesions) in the uterus or tubes
  • Blockage of the fallopian tubes
  • Presence of foreign bodies
  • Tumors or polyps in the uterus

What the risks are

  • Allergic reaction to the contrast
  • Endometrial infection (endometritis)
  • Fallopian tube infection (salpingitis)
  • Perforation of (poking a hole through) the uterus

Special considerations

This test should not be performed if you have pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or are experiencing unexplained vaginal bleeding.

After the test, report any signs or symptoms of infection to your health care provider immediately. These include foul-smelling vaginal discharge, pain, or fever.

References

Katz VL. Diagnostic procedures: Imaging, endometrial sampling, endoscopy: indications and contraindications, complications. In: Katz VL, Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 11.

Review Date: 2/26/2012
Reviewed By: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. and Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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