What Is Fallopian Tube Recanalization?

Fallopian tube recanalization (FTR) is a nonsurgical procedure to clear blockages in the fallopian tubes, part of a woman’s reproductive system.

What are fallopian tubes?

The fallopian tubes are important for female fertility. They are the passageways for the eggs to travel from the ovaries to the uterus. During conception:

  1. The ovary releases an egg, which travels into the fallopian tube.
  2. Sperm travels into the fallopian tubes to fertilize the egg.
  3. The resulting embryo is nourished and transported to the uterus where the pregnancy continues.

A common cause of female infertility is a blockage of the fallopian tubes, usually as the result of debris that has built up. Occasionally, scarring from surgery or serious infection can lead to a blockage as well.

What happens during a fallopian tube recanalization?

Fallopian tube recanalization (FTR) is a nonsurgical procedure our interventional radiologists use to treat these blockages. Recanalization is the medical term for “reopening.”

During the procedure, which does not require any needles or incisions, we will:

  1. Place a speculum into the vagina and pass a small plastic tube (catheter) through the cervix into the uterus.
  2. Inject a liquid contrast agent (sometimes called a dye, although nothing is stained) through the catheter.
  3. Examine the uterine cavity on a nearby monitor using an X-ray camera.
  4. Obtain a hystero-salpingogram or HSG. Literally, that means a “uterus-and-fallopian-tube-picture.”
  5. Determine if there is a blockage and if it is located on one or both fallopian tubes.
  6. Thread a smaller catheter through the first catheter and then into the fallopian tube to clear the blockage.

More than 90 percent of the time, we can reopen at least one blocked fallopian tube and restore normal function.