Selective Salpinography and Tubal Catheterisation

Who is the procedure for?

This technique is used for women who are trying for a pregnancy and another test that they have undergone (X-ray or laparoscopy) has shown either one or both of the fallopian tubes to be blocked.  In these cases, the blockage is at the part of the tube that joins to the womb (proximal tube).   Ideally, a sperm test should have been performed and the results should show either normal findings or only a mild problem.

What does the procedure involve?

The procedure is carried out in an X-ray room at the hospital under local anaesthetic, with the patient lying in the same position as they would when having a smear test.  A fine tube (catheter) is passed through the cervix and to the opening of the fallopian tube inside the womb under X-ray control.  A special dye that can be seen under X-ray is then injected directly inside the tube.  If this is not enough to open the tube, then a special wire is advanced to clear any blockage that may exist.  If required, the same procedure will then take place with the other tube. The procedure will take approximately 30 minutes.

What are the benefits of the procedure?

Research (1)  has shown that in about 8 out of 10 cases the tubes can be unblocked, which in turn increases the possibility of natural conception.  About 40% of women conceive within four years of undergoing the procedure.  Furthermore, fertility drugs (oral or injectable) that would not be of benefit with blocked tubes can now be used.

What are the risks of the procedure?

There is about a 1% risk of risk of infection. All women are given antibiotics for five days.  In about 3% of cases the wire used can perforate the fallopian tube. Apart from extra pain killers, no other treatment or medication is necessary. The risk of an ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy in the fallopian tube) is about 5%.  An early scan for the next pregnancy is advised.

Preparation for the procedure  

  • After having had your consultation with Mr Papaioannou, plese call our radiology department at Spire Parkway Hospital on the first day of your menstrual period or as soon as possible after on 0121 704 5550.  Advise them that have been referred for a selective salpingogram and they will confirm your details and arrange an appointment for you.
  • Take ibuprofen 600mgs and paracetamol 500mgs about two hours before the examination.
  • You can continue to eat normally prior to the procedure.


(1)  Papaioannou S, et a; Long-term fertility prognosis following selective salpingography and tubal catheterization in women with proximal tubal blockage. Human Reproduction (2002) 17 : 2325-2330.

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Mr Spyros Papaioannou, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist


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