What Are MIIPs? / Female Infertility

I am having trouble getting pregnant.

You are not alone.  In the U.S., 1 in 7 couples has problems with fertility.  That’s up to 3 million couples who want to start a family but cannot get pregnant on their own.  In about 20 to 40% of women, infertility is caused by blocked fallopian tubes.   Your doctor may send you for a minimally invasive, image-guided procedure (MIIP) to evaluate your fallopian tubes and open them up, if necessary. 

What are fallopian tubes?

When a woman ovulates, an egg is released from her ovary. The egg travels from the ovary into the uterus through a little tube called the fallopian tube. If the egg meets a sperm while it is in the fallopian tube and gets fertilized, then the woman will become pregnant. If the fallopian tubes are blocked, the sperm cannot reach the egg to cause pregnancy.

What is fallopian tube recanalization?

Fallopian tube recanalization (sometimes called fallopian tube catheterization) is a minimally invasive, image-guided procedure (MIIP) MIIP that helps some women become pregnant by unblocking their fallopian tubes.

Above:  Fallopian Tube Catheterization graphic credited to 

Dr. Anne Roberts, Interventional Radiologist, 

UCSD Medical Center, San Diego, CA

Why might a fallopian tube become blocked?

The fallopian tube can become blocked by mucus or debris – this is the easiest cause to treat.  The fallopian tube can also become blocked by scarring.  Causes of scarring include infection, surgery, and endometriosis. Sometimes the cause of the blockage is unknown.

What happens during a fallopian tube recanalization?

Your doctor will place a speculum in the vagina - just like having a Pap smear. She will thread a very small tube called a catheter through the vagina and into the uterus. She will inject a small amount of medical dye through the catheter so that she can see the uterus and the fallopian tubes with low-dose moving X-rays. If a fallopian tube is blocked, she will thread the catheter to the fallopian tube and then may place a small wire into the tube to clear the blockage. The whole procedure usually takes 15-30 minutes.

What are the risks of fallopian tube recanalization?

Fallopian tube recanalization is a very safe procedure. Your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits of fallopian tube catheterization with you before the procedure.  Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection. Most women will experience spotting for a few days after the procedure.  Some women can experience cramping, so your doctor may offer you medicine to make you more comfortable.

Will I be able to become pregnant after the fallopian tube recanalization?

About 1 in 4 women get pregnant within one or two cycles after a fallopian tube catheterization.

Where can I get more information about fallopian tube recanalizations?

© 2022 The Interventional Initiative, a California 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

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