The Fallopian tubes or the uterine tubes are a pair of 4-inch (10 cm) long narrow tubes connecting the ovaries to the uterus. Ova (egg cells) are carried to the uterus through the fallopian tubes following ovulation. The ova may also sometimes fertilize in the Fallopian tubes if sperm is present following sexual intercourse. This condition is known as the tubal or fallopian tube pregnancy and results from the fertilized egg staying in the tube instead of travelling to the uterus. Dr. Nikita Trehan, a renowned Gynaecologist from Sunrise Hospitals, Delhi talks about the fallopian tubes and its complexities.
These tubes have the following characteristic features which allow them to function normally:
- The inner lining of the tubes have fine hair called ‘cilia’ which enables the sperm/egg to move in various directions.
- The inner lining of the tube is lubricated with fluid which allows smooth passage of the sperm/egg and also nourishes the egg during transportation.
- The muscle layer of the tube contracts and relaxes to help the passage of the sperm/egg.
Even if one of the two tubes is open and is functioning normally, one can conceive.
However, there are few tests one needs to undergo to make sure that the tubes are functioning properly.
Dr. Nikita Trehan says that there is no one perfect test and it really depends on the Gynaecologist on which test she prefers to get done.
Hysterosalpingography (HSG) is a simple, cheap and commonly-performed test in which dye is injected into the uterus and x-rays are taken. It does not need anaesthesia. It can tell us whether the tubes are blocked and if so, at what level. However, in early tubal disease, the HSG report may be completely normal.
Laparoscopy is a procedure performed to evaluate the pelvic organs under general anaesthesia. A telescope is inserted into the abdominal cavity through the umbilicus and the organs are examined under magnification. This test determines what kind of treatment is going to work.
Hysteroscopy is a process where a telescope is inserted into the uterus to assess the inside of the uterine cavity.
Is the damage irreversible?
In some cases it is irreversible and in some it can be treated. There may be three major conditions.
- If the cause is tuberculosis, a full course of anti-tuberculosis medicines is used to treat it.
- If the cause is infection, one needs to take a full course of antibiotic therapy.
- If the cause is endometriosis, surgery for endometriosis can help restore the position and shape of the tubes.