The fallopian tubes form an important part of the female reproductive system. These are also known as uterine tubes or oviducts. These measure about 10 cm in length and lie within the folds of the broad ligaments of the uterus. They provide passage for the route of sperm to reach ovum and transport secondary oocytes and fertilized ova from the ovaries to the uterus. 

Some of the common conditions that affect the fallopian tubes are:

The infections and the associated inflammatory conditions followed by ectopic (tubal) pregnancy and endometriosis

Suppurative fsalpingitis may be caused by any pyogenic organism; in some cases more than one organism is involved. Gonococcus is the causative organism in more than 60% of cases, with Clamydia being responsible for many of the remaining cases. These tubal infections are a part of pelvic inflammatory disease

Tuberculous salpingitis is rare in the developed nations but is more common, however, in parts of the world where tuberculosis is prevalent and is an important cause of infertility in these areas

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Frequently asked questions about Fallopian Tubes

How do you know if you have damaged fallopian tubes?

A hysterosalpingogram (HSG), which is an imaging test done using a type of x-ray imager called a fluoroscope, helps to determine obstruction or damage to the fallopian tubes.

How does the fallopian tube get damaged?

Causes of fallopian tubes due to damage or blockage can include: 

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease, 
  • Infection of the uterus and fallopian tubes ue to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, etc.
  • Ectopic pregnancy can also pose a risk

Where do eggs go when fallopian tubes are blocked?

When the fallopian tubes are blocked, the eggs get stuck in the tubes. Thus fertilization cannot occur and the woman is rendered infertile.

What is an ectopic pregnancy?

A pregnancy in which the fertilised egg implants outside the uterus that is the pregnancy is caused by a fertilized ovum implanting either within the uterine tube or anywhere other than the endometrial cavity.

Why does an ectopic pregnancy occur?

A tubal pregnancy — the most common type of ectopic pregnancy — happens when a fertilized egg gets stuck on its way to the uterus, often because the fallopian tube is damaged by inflammation or is misshapened. Hormonal imbalances or abnormal development of the fertilized egg also play a role.

How soon would I know if I have an ectopic pregnancy?

Initial signs are bleeding from the vagina which might not be that heavy. The other sign is abdominal or pelvic pain after 6-8 weeks of a missed period.

How long can an ectopic pregnancy last?

Since the tissues outside the uterus, it cannot provide the necessary blood supply and support and hence ultimately the fetus does not survive. The structure containing the fetus typically ruptures after about 6 to 16 weeks.

What is the treatment for ectopic pregnancy?

Medication like methotrexate injection can be used if the patient have low levels of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), a hormone that the body makes when a female is pregnant with a normal fallopian tube. Methotrexate doesn’t allow the cells to grow and the body absorbs the pregnancy. The usual side effects of this drug include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, ulcers in the mucous membranes like the lips and mouth and abdominal pain. If methotrexate doesn’t work and if the patient has high levels of hCG, severe symptoms and damaged fallopian tubes, then surgery is the only option. If the fallopian tubes is severely damaged, then the doctor may also remove the tube along with the pregnancy. 

What is pelvic inflammatory disease?

It is the inflammation of the upper genital tract of women due to an infection. The disease usually affects the female reproductive organs that include uterus, fallopian tubes and/or ovaries. It usually ascends from the lower genital tract.

What are the symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease?
  • Pain in your lower abdomen.
  • Fever.
  • An unusual discharge with a bad odour from the vagina;
  • Pain and/or bleeding while intercourse
  • Burning sensation while urinating
  • Bleeding between periods.
What are the symptoms of hydrosalpinx?

Hydrosalpinx is a blockage in a fallopian tube due to a watery fluid. Symptoms of hydrosalpinx may include the following:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Abdominal and pelvic pain

What is the treatment of hydrosalpinx?

Salpingectomy which involves the removal of the damaged tube is usually the surgery of choice. Surgery can also be an option to remove scar tissue or other adhesions that could negatively affect fertility.

How effective is tubal ligation?

Tubal ligation is highly effective with a failure rate of only 0.5%

Recent Articles

Cancer : Paratubal cysts are 0.1-2 cm translucent cysts filled with clear serous fluid are the most common primary lesions excluding endometriosis. Hydatids of Morgagni are found near the fimbriated end of the tube or in the broad ligaments. Benign tumors of the fallopian tube are rare and include adenomatoid tumor (mesothelioma), which occurs subserosally on the tube or sometimes in the mesosalpinx. These small nodules are counterparts of the adenomatoid tumors that occur in the testes or epididymis. Historically, fallopian tube carcinoma was considered to be a rare entity. However, substantial data have accumulated indicating that at least a subset of “serous ovarian cancers” actually arise from the epithelium of the fallopian tube. This idea is supported by the frequent identification of serous tubal in situ carcinoma in women at risk for serous carcinoma and observations showing that failure to remove the fallopian tubes at the time of oophorectomy is associated with a significant residual risk of “ovarian” cancer.

Ectopic pregnancy:

When the fertilized ovum gets implanted in the fallopian tube or anywhere in the endometrial cavity, it is referred to as ectopic pregnancy. The pregnancy cannot fully mature and when the embryo or the fetus becomes large enough, it can rupture through the wall of the fallopian tube which is a medical emergency. Immediate surgical intervention is needed.

Commonly performed surgical procedures involving the fallopian tubes include:

  • Salpingo-oophorectomy: removal of the ovary and fallopian tube
  • Salpingectomy: removal of the fallopian tube
  • Salpingostomy: surgical incision into the fallopian tube to create an opening
  • Tubal ligation: an umbrella term for female surgical sterilization by occlusion, removal, or ligation of fallopian tubes
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