The fallopian tube may be blocked or damaged, preventing the egg from moving from the ovary to the uterus to be implanted.
Sometimes the fallopian tubes are blocked or damaged so that the egg cannot move from the ovary to the uterus.
Causes include previous conditions, such as the following:
Current conditions may also block the tubes:
Procedures used to determine whether the fallopian tubes are blocked include the following:
If an abnormality within the uterus is detected, doctors examine the uterus with a viewing tube called a hysteroscope, which is inserted through the vagina and cervix into the uterus. If adhesions, a polyp, or a small fibroid is detected, instruments inserted through the hysteroscope may be used to dislodge or remove the abnormal tissue, increasing the chances that the woman will become pregnant.
If evidence suggests that the fallopian tubes are blocked or that a woman may have endometriosis, a small viewing tube called a laparoscope is inserted in the pelvic cavity through a small incision just below the navel. Usually, a general anesthetic is used. This procedure enables doctors to directly view the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. Instruments inserted through the laparoscope may also be used to dislodge or remove abnormal tissue in the pelvis.
Treatment depends on the cause. Abnormal tissue is sometimes dislodged or removed during diagnosis (using hysteroscopy or laparoscopy).
Surgery can be done to repair a fallopian tube damaged by an ectopic pregnancy or an infection. However, after such surgery, the chances of a normal pregnancy are small. The chances of an ectopic pregnancy are higher than usual both before and after such surgery. Consequently, in vitro fertilization is often recommended instead.
Last full review/revision February 2013 by Robert W. Rebar, MD