Interventional radiologists are able to treat common causes of female infertility when caused by blockages in the body. These minimally-invasive procedures do not require surgery or general anesthesia.
A common cause of female infertility is a blockage of the fallopian tube(s). The fallopian tube connects the ovary to the uterus. If the tube is plugged or narrowed, the egg will not pass to the uterus, preventing pregnancy.
Interventional radiologists use minimally-invasive procedures to open blockages throughout the body, like angioplasty for blocked vessels. Imaging tests like ultrasound or MRI are used to find blockages. If a blockage is found in the fallopian tube(s), it can be treated with a procedure similar to angioplasty called Fallopian Tube Recanalization or Selective Salpingography. Recanalization is the technical term for opening blockages. These blockages can be due to debris or mucus, or related to prior surgery or infection.
The procedure is performed at the hospital using local and IV sedation. A catheter is placed into the uterus. Using x-ray dye and x-ray equipment to confirm the location of the blockage, another catheter is used to open the blockage.
"The procedure itself takes less than one hour, and most patients go home after being observed for one hour after the procedure," said Dr. Anne Reddy, interventional radiologist at Suburban Imaging. "The technical success rate for the procedure is high, exceeding 90%. The average pregnancy rate after recanalization, without other forms of fertility assistance, is 30%. Since the procedure doesn’t treat the underlying medical issue that caused the tubal blockage in the first place, about 30% of tubes will reocclude within the first 6-12 months," she said.