What Is Hysterosalpingogram? - Procedure, Risks & Side Effects

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  • 0:00 Purpose of an HSG
  • 1:38 HSG Procedure
  • 3:00 Risks and Side Effects
  • 3:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sarah Lawson

Sarah has taught nursing courses and has a master's degree in nursing education.

A hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is a diagnostic procedure performed by a doctor. The doctor uses x-ray imaging to exam a women's uterus, fallopian tubes, and pelvic surroundings.

Purpose of an HSG

Imagine a healthy, young woman who is wishing for nothing more than to be a mother. So, she and her partner decide to try for a baby. Months go by without anything happening. This woman is beginning to feel hopeless and has seen more negative pregnancy results than she cares to remember. She makes an appointment with her doctor who then tells her that they need to perform a hysterosalpingogram. The woman looks at her doctor with a confused look on her face and says, 'A what?'

A hysterosalpingogram, or HSG for short (phew!) is a diagnostic x-ray procedure used to examine a woman's uterus, fallopian tubes, and the areas surrounding them. A hysterosalpingogram, sometimes called a uterosalpingogram, is typically performed when a woman is having trouble getting pregnant or has had multiple unexplained miscarriages. There are several reasons a woman may have difficulty getting pregnant. Some of these include:

  • Structural abnormalities of the uterus
  • Blockage in the fallopian tube(s)
  • Scar tissue in the uterus or fallopian tubes
  • Uterine fibroids, tumors, polyps, or adhesions

Since an HSG is performed using x-ray imaging, a doctor is able to see any of these abnormalities a woman may have that are preventing her from becoming pregnant.

Remember the young woman from earlier? Let's assume that after her HSG, her doctor discovers that she has a blocked fallopian tube. Since they know the reason for this woman's infertility, she can now receive the treatment needed to correct it and hopefully become pregnant in the future.

HSG Procedure

Since an HSG is not advised during pregnancy, it is important that an HSG is performed right after a woman's period ends and before she ovulates.

Many women are given a mild sedative before their HSG to help them relax during the procedure. A doctor will use a speculum, which is a tool used to visualize the vagina and cervix, to place a very small tube through the cervix and into the uterus. The doctor will then inject a dye through this tube and use an x-ray to watch this dye flow from the uterus through the fallopian tubes.

An x-ray is a photographic or digital image of the internal structure of an object, usually a body part. The pictures obtained during the procedure can diagnose abnormal uterine structure or injury and blocked fallopian tubes.

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