A hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is a diagnostic procedure that is primarily used to investigate the cause of infertility or miscarriages in women. During the procedure, a clinician examines the structure of the uterus and the openness of the fallopian tubes. An HSG involves administering a special contrast dye into the uterus and fallopian tubes, which outlines these organs on X-ray images.
A hysterosalpingogram checks for conditions and irregularities that can lead to difficulty conceiving and sustaining a healthy fetus, including:
- Fallopian tube blockages caused by scarring or infection
- Structural abnormalities in the uterus or fallopian tubes
- Uterine fibroids
- Endometrial polyps
Here’s a brief overview of the hysterosalpingogram procedure:
- The patient lies on an exam table with her legs positioned open.
- A speculum is gently inserted into the vagina to expose the cervix and keep the vaginal walls open during the procedure.
- Local anesthesia may be injected into the cervix to numb the area and prevent discomfort.
- The contrast dye is fed into the uterus and fallopian tubes, either through an instrument known as a cannula or a thin tube that is inserted in the cervix.
- The speculum is removed and the patient lies beneath an X-ray machine, which captures images of the uterus and fallopian tubes. The patient may be asked to change her position as images are taken.
- The cannula or tube is gently removed following the procedure and the patient can immediately to return to normal activities.
An HSG test is not performed on women who are pregnant or experiencing heavy menstrual bleeding.
What to Expect
A hysterosalpingogram is an outpatient procedure that only takes a few minutes to complete. The most common side effect is mild or moderate pelvic cramping that can last for several minutes up to a few hours. Taking over-the-counter pain medication can help relieve any pain during or after the procedure. It’s a good idea for patients to have a family or friend drive them home from their appointment, just in case uncomfortable cramping occurs.
HSG is considered a safe and effective diagnostic procedure, but there are a few possible risks. Rarely, women may experience:
- Fainting or lightheadedness during the procedure
- Pelvic infection
- An allergic reaction to the contrast dye
Hysterosalpingograms and other advanced diagnostic procedures are performed on a routine basis at Tampa General Hospital’s Women’s Institute.