Fallopian Tube Catheterization (Recanalization)

Front view of uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.

Closeup of fallopian tube with blockage.

Fallopian tube catheterization helps open a woman’s blocked fallopian tubes. This improves your chances of getting pregnant. The fallopian tubes carry eggs from your ovaries to your uterus (womb). When sperm meets an egg in a fallopian tube, the egg is fertilized. But if the tubes are blocked, fertilization can’t happen. This procedure is done by a doctor called an interventional radiologist.

Getting ready for your procedure

  • The procedure is scheduled for shortly after your menstrual period ends. This helps ensure you are not pregnant.  

  • You may be prescribed antibiotics to take before and after your procedure. Take them as directed to minimize the risk for infection.

  • You may be prescribed pain medicine to take before your procedure. Take it as directed.

  • Arrange for a family member or friend to give you a ride home after your procedure. You won't be able to drive.

  • Follow any other instructions your provider gives you to get ready.

During your procedure

Your provider will explain the details of the procedure. In general, you can expect the following:

  • You will lie on your back on an X-ray table.

  • An IV (intravenous) line may be put into a vein in your arm or hand. This line gives you medicines (anesthesia) to help relax you and keep you from feeling pain.

  • A small metal or plastic tube (speculum) is put into your vagina to hold it open.

  • A thin, flexible tube (catheter) is put through your cervix into your uterus.

  • X-ray dye (contrast medium) is injected through the catheter. It flows up into your fallopian tubes. The dye helps your tubes be seen clearly on the X-ray images. This test is called a hysterosalpingogram (HSG). It will show any blockage that may be in your fallopian tube and help guide the rest of the procedure.

  • The catheter is moved into the opening of your fallopian tube.

  • Fluid is injected through the catheter into the tube. This helps to clear the blockage. The catheter may have a small balloon or wire on the end. The balloon can be inflated to help clear the blockage. The wire can also be passed to help clear the blockage.

After your procedure

  • Some cramping and mild bleeding is common for 3 to 5 days.

  • Don’t put anything into your vagina for 48 hours after your procedure. Don't use tampons or have sex during that time.

Call your healthcare provider if you have any of the following:

  • Severe pain or cramps 

  • Bleeding other than mild spotting

  • Vaginal discharge 

  • Fever over 100.4°F (38°C), or as directed by your healthcare provider

Risks and complications

All procedures have some risk. Possible risks of fallopian tube catheterization include:

  • Small hole (perforation) in a fallopian tube

  • Pelvic infection

  • Problems due to X-ray dye, including allergic reaction or kidney damage

  • Tubal pregnancy, where a fertilized egg stays and grows in a fallopian tube

  • Radiation exposure to your reproductive organs, although the risk from this is low

  • Your fallopian tubes may become blocked again. If this happens, you will need to have the same or a different procedure in the future.