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Hysterosalpingogram - Uses, Procedure, Benefits, and Risks

Published on Aug 24, 2022   -  5 min read


Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is a diagnostic procedure that is used mainly to visualize the fallopian tubes.


The incidence of infertility is rising steadily worldwide. Infertility and subfertility are common problems affecting both men and women equally. Various factors contribute to the cause of infertility, such as lifestyle diseases, changing lifestyle habits, advancing age, and work-related stress. However, certain anatomical and structural abnormalities may also result in infertility. For example, in women, abnormal uterus and fallopian tubes contribute significantly to increasing infertility.

What Is a Hysterosalpingogram?

Hysterosalpingogram is a radiological diagnostic procedure that is used to evaluate the internal structure of the fallopian tubes. It is a specialized technique where a contrast dye is injected into the uterus, and X-rays are taken. HSG is primarily indicated in women who have been suffering from long-term fertility issues. There are many reasons for female infertility, one of them being blocked fallopian tubes. Tubal blockages would hinder the fertilization of the egg by sperm. It will also not allow the fertilized egg to pass into the uterus. For the successful implantation of the embryo, the uterus should be in normal shape and size, devoid of any pathologies.

To determine tubal patency and to assess the uterine cavity, HSG is most commonly advised by doctors. It is also advised as a prerequisite test before fertility treatments such as IVF (in-vitro fertilization).

What Are the Uses of Hysterosalpingograms?

Hysterosalpingograms are usually indicated to check the health of the uterus and fallopian tubes and any abnormalities associated. The indications of a hysterosalpingogram are as mentioned below:

What Is the Difference Between Hysterosalpingogram and Hysterosonogram?

  • Hysterosonogram is an ultrasound imaging procedure used to evaluate the lining of the uterus. Hence hysterosonogram is chiefly indicated to detect any abnormalities associated with the uterus. But unfortunately, it is not successful in imaging the fallopian tubes. In contrast, a hysterosalpingogram is an excellent diagnostic tool for evaluating the uterus and fallopian tubes.

  • Hysterosonogram is conducted with the help of ultrasound, whereas a hysterosalpingogram is done using X-rays.

  • Hysterosonogram uses saline water as a contrast medium, whereas an iodinated contrast material is used in a hysterosalpingogram.

  • Hysterosonogram is not efficient in evaluating fallopian tube pathologies, whereas a hysterosalpingogram is a gold standard in diagnosing tubal blockages and also reversing their blockage.

  • The advantage of a hysterosonogram is that no radiation is used in ultrasound; hence it is very safe, whereas a hysterosalpingogram has a risk of some radiation exposure.

Difference Between Hysterosalpingogram and Hysterosonogram

What Are the Preparations to Be Done Before Hysterosalpingogram Procedure?

  • Patients are advised to do this test between the 5th to 10th days of their menstrual cycle.

  • Analgesics and antibiotics will be prescribed, and patients will be advised to start them before the procedure.

  • There are no dietary restrictions.

  • Patients will be advised to wear loose, comfortable clothing.

  • Jewelry and accessories in the pelvic area will have to be removed.

  • Patients should inform the doctor of any history of allergies.

  • This procedure should be avoided if patients are having any pelvic infection, uterine bleeding or are pregnant.

  • Patients may be advised to carry a sanitary napkin as mild spotting may occur after the procedure.

How Is Hysterosalpingogram Done?

  • HSG is usually done as an outpatient procedure. The entire procedure may take anywhere between 30 to 45 minutes.

  • The patient will be asked to lie on the examination table in a position similar to a pelvic examination. A speculum will be inserted into the vagina so that the cervix can be viewed.

  • The cervix is cleaned. A thin tube called a cannula is inserted through the cervix into the uterus.

  • The contrast material would then be injected through the cannula into the uterus. The uterine cavity is filled with contrast material.

  • A clear contour of the uterus and fallopian tube would be visible, and if the fallopian tubes are open, the dye spills into the pelvic cavity, where they are absorbed by the body.

  • No dye spill would indicate blocked fallopian tubes.

  • The doctor would then take the X-ray images where the contrast material would appear white.

  • The patient may be asked to turn to either side to get a better view.

  • Minor discomfort and cramps are common when the dye is injected into the uterus.

  • The cannula and speculum will be removed after the procedure.

  • The patient will be assisted to the waiting room.

What Are the Post Procedure Instructions to Be Followed by the Patients?

  • HSG is conducted as an outpatient procedure; hence patients may resume their normal activity.

  • Vaginal discharge, bleeding, spotting, and cramps are common.

  • The patient will be advised to take painkillers and antibiotics.

  • The use of tampons should be avoided.

  • Refrain from intercourse for a few days as it increases the chances of any infection.

What Are the Benefits of Doing Hysterosalpingograms?

  • It is a minimally invasive procedure.

  • Relatively safe with no major complications.

  • The pressure of the injected dye can potentially open a blocked tube.

  • The radiation exposure is very minimal.

What Are the Risks Associated With this Procedure?

Complications associated with HSG are very rare; however, the following risks are a possibility and cannot be excluded:

  1. Pelvic infection.

  2. Allergic reaction to the dye.

  3. Uterine perforation may occur, but it is extremely uncommon.

  4. False positivity is another drawback with HSG. Tubal spasms due to discomfort and cramps can occur, resulting in tubal occlusion during the procedure.


Infertility is a common cause of concern among many couples. Studies have shown a rise in the number of female infertility cases. A proper diagnosis and subsequent treatment can help these patients overcome infertility. HSG is the most common first-line test advised by doctors to assess female infertility issues. It is a cost-effective and relatively safe test that can be carried out as an outpatient procedure. The results are promising, thereby helping the patients and doctors as well to decide the further line of treatment.


Frequently Asked Questions


Can HSG Help You Conceive?

During HSG (hysterosalpingogram), the liquid is forced into the tubes that run through the uterus. As a result, HSG can overcome any "mild block" in the tubes. This can increase the likelihood of pregnancy. Several studies have shown that the HSG procedure could help women with unexplained infertility become pregnant and that the chance of pregnancy is greatest when the oil-based contrast is used. However, more research is required before HSG can be used as both a fertility treatment and a diagnostic procedure.


When Is a Hysterosalpingogram Done?

The healthcare provider will schedule your procedure for the initial two weeks of your menstrual cycle, following your last period but before you ovulate. This timing reduces the likelihood of you menstruating or being pregnant during the procedure. If you are pregnant or have a pelvic infection, you should not have an HSG.


What Is a Hysterosalpingogram?

A hysterosalpingogram (HSG) test is an X-ray-dye method to diagnose fertility issues. An X-ray captures images of the uterine cavity and fallopian tubes while they are filled with a special dye during an HSG. An HSG can assist your doctor in identifying reproductive anatomy issues that may prevent you from becoming pregnant. 


Is HSG Painful?

Mild pain or discomfort is usual with an HSG, both during and after the procedure. When the doctor inserts the dye solution into your uterus, you may experience cramping. When your tubes become clogged, you may experience more cramping. The cramping could last anywhere from five minutes to several hours after your procedure. It could be mild or moderate. Over-the-counter NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can help relieve cramps.


What Happens Next After the HSG Test?

Your provider will inform you of the results and advise you on the next steps. If the HSG reveals a blockage, your doctor may suggest additional procedures, such as laparoscopy, to further diagnose and resolve the issue. Alternatively, they may advise fertility treatments that do not necessitate clear fallopian tubes, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).


Is Anesthesia Required for the HSG Test?

HSG is a diagnostic procedure. It takes approximately 15 minutes and involves mild pain or discomfort. The cramping could last anywhere from five minutes to several hours after your procedure. It could be mild or moderate. Over-the-counter NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can help relieve cramps. Hence doctors usually do not advise anesthesia for HSG tests.


Does HSG Have Any Dietary Restrictions?

HSG does not have any dietary restrictions. However, patients are advised to have a light meal before the test. Also, an hour before the procedure, they are advised to take an over-the-counter pain reliever and antibiotics beforehand to avoid infection.


Does the Dye Leak Out After the HSG Test?

After the HSG test, if the tube is open, the dye slowly fills it. Further, the dye leaks into the pelvic cavity, where the body absorbs it. You may be required to wear a pad after the test to catch any extra dye solution that leaks from your vagina. The discharge is frequently sticky and includes small amounts of blood.


Can HSG Show Fibroids and Ovarian Cysts?

Hysterosalpingograms are typically used to assess the health of the uterus and fallopian tubes, along with any abnormalities. In addition, HSG is frequently used to assess infertility or subfertility issues, determine the cause of multiple spontaneous miscarriages, determine tubal patency, and ensure that the tubal ligation is successful. HSG can also detect uterine abnormalities such as polyps, fibroids, scarring, and other congenital anomalies that the doctor can use to plan for further imaging tests, like sonohysterography and hysteroscopy.


What Is the Purpose of the Fallopian Tubes?

The fallopian tubes are an essential pathway for an egg and sperm to meet, allowing the fertilized egg to pass back to the uterus for implantation. Your fertility is affected by the health of your fallopian tubes. Individuals with blocked or damaged fallopian tubes may find it difficult to become pregnant.


Can a Person Get Pregnant Without Fallopian Tubes?

You cannot conceive naturally if both fallopian tubes are removed (bilateral salpingectomy). However, you can have an IVF (in vitro fertilization) pregnancy if you have had both the fallopian tube removed. IVF is a procedure in which your eggs are fertilized in a lab and then transferred into your uterus.

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Last reviewed at:
24 Aug 2022  -  5 min read




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