Overcoming fallopian tube blockages with tubal cannulation
Our Austin fertility doctors sometimes use tubal cannulation to overcome blockages in the fallopian tubes. Fallopian tube problems are common. In fact, about 25% of women with infertility have them.
The fallopian tube passage is narrower where it connects to the uterus, and wider where it ends close to the ovary. Sometimes, a blockage of mucus or debris can occur in the narrower part of the fallopian tube. This is called proximal fallopian tube blockage. Tubal cannulation is a procedure to undo this blockage.
Exploring the process of tubal cannulation
Our Austin fertility doctors perform tubal cannulation as a surgical procedure at a local surgery center. This procedure involves a combination of a hysteroscopy and a laparoscopy. The laparoscope provides visual guidance of the outside of the fallopian tube as the doctor also looks inside the uterus with the hysteroscope. The doctor then places a thin wire through the opening of the fallopian tube where it connects to the uterus. If the procedure is successful, the wire will push past the blockage, effectively opening the fallopian tube.
Who is a candidate for this procedure?
Tubal cannulation may or may not be the best choice for your fallopian tube problem. Before recommending tubal cannulation for a proximal tubal blockage, our Austin fertility doctors will confirm the following.
- You have no other significant fertility factors found with testing.
- Time to conception is not a significant problem.
- You have an absence of significant scar tissue outside the fallopian tube.
Finding success with tubal cannulation
Tubal cannulation can unblock proximately blocked fallopian tubes up to 85% of the time. Additionally, one study showed a 50% pregnancy rate in patients who had had their fallopian tubes successfully cannulated. It is important to note that up to 30% of patients may experience re-blocking of their fallopian tubes. However, the overall risks of this procedure are low.
Patients who are not good candidates for tubal cannulation have another choice. They can undergo IVF, which is a fertility treatment that overcomes fallopian tube problems. Some patients may choose to proceed with IVF directly rather than trying to surgically treat fallopian tube problems. IVF success rates are notably higher than other fertility treatments, but do depend significantly on the woman’s egg quality and supply.
If you have been diagnosed with proximal fallopian tube blockage, contact our Austin fertility doctors to discuss your treatment options.