Hydrosalpinx is a condition where a woman's fallopian tubes become filled with fluid and become blocked. This blockage in the tube can cause pain for some women and can lead to infertility. With diagnosis, hydrosalpinx is treatable.
The function of the fallopian tubes is to carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. Each month during ovulation when the egg is released from the ovary, it travels to the fallopian tube. Conception takes place in the fallopian tubes. Sperm travel to meet the egg in the fallopian tubes, creating a fertilized egg or embryo. The embryo then travels through the tube to the uterus to implant. However, with hydropsalpinx, the fallopian tube is blocked with fluid, making it difficult or impossible for the egg and sperm to meet.
Hydrosalpinx is usually caused by an old infection, such as a sexually transmitted disease like chlamydia and gonorrhea. It can also be caused by previous surgery on the reproductive organs or abdominal area or by previous pregnancies, miscarriages or abortions, or having an IUD inserted.
The symptoms of hydrosalpinx include pain in the lower abdomen or pelvic area and a vaginal discharge, but sometimes there are no physical symptoms. Some women only discover they have a blocked tube because of trying to conceive and not being able to.
One of the first tools for evaluation is a hysterosalpingogram, or HSG. In this procedure, dye is inserted into the cervix. The dye travels into the uterus and up the fallopian tubes. Then your doctor or X-ray tech will take X-rays of your pelvic area to see if the dye gets all the way through the tube. Ultrasound is another procedure used to diagnose hydrosalpinx. With a vaginal ultrasound, a normal-sized tube cannot be seen. So a visible tube is an indication something is wrong. Because the results of the ultrasound just show an enlarged tube, but not what is causing it, other tests will be performed after the ultrasound.
Laparoscopy is sometimes used for diagnosis, but is used more for treatment. During laparoscopy, a tiny tube with a camera is inserted through an incision in the abdomen. The surgeon can see on a television monitor any abnormalities in the reproductive organs. During the laparoscopy, the surgeon can make repairs to the tube. Often, though, the tube closes again.
Hydrosalpinx has a high recurrence rate, so even with proper diagnosis and treatment, conception can be difficult. In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is sometimes the only option for couples trying to conceive because the tubes are not involved.