The HSG fertility test provides information about the internal architecture of the fallopian tubes and the uterus. Dye is passed through a small tube through the cervix and into the uterus. The dye is “radiopaque” meaning that it can be visualized on X-ray.
The dye fills the uterus and flows through the fallopian tubes into the abdominal cavity if the tubes are open. Sequential x-rays are taken during the procedure and if there is a tubal obstruction, or complete blockage, the dye is stopped at that point and is seen on x-ray. If the dye does not enter the fallopian tube it may be due to scarring or to spasm of the musculature of the proximal tubes.
Likewise, abnormalities in the uterus such as fibroids and polyps can often be seen as a “filling defect”. A “filling defect” is an area that does not fill with dye in the uterine cavity. Congenital abnormalities of the uterine cavity can also be evaluated with an HSG.
The HSG is an outpatient procedure and is accompanied with only minimal discomfort if the tubes are open. If the tubes are blocked, the procedure can be painful as increased pressure is usually applied in order to try to “force” dye into the fallopian tubes. It is recommended that 600-800 mg. of Ibuprofen be taken 30 minutes prior to the procedure to decrease the likelihood of significant cramping.
The HSG is performed after tubal reversal to document that the tubes are open.