Reproductive imaging at a glance
- Reproductive imaging techniques are used to view the inner workings of the reproductive system.
- Reproductive imaging procedures such as ultrasound, sonohysterogram and hysterosalpingogram can be performed in the Frisco Institute for Reproductive Medicine office.
- Reproductive imaging is a minimally invasive way for doctors to provide accurate and timely diagnoses of anatomic issues, which result in treatment plans that are tailored to individual circumstances.
What is reproductive imaging?
Reproductive imaging is a term used to describe the different tools and procedures that allow a physician to view inside the reproductive system for clues about conditions that may be causing a problem with a woman’s fertility.
Reproductive imaging allows doctors to see the inside of the reproductive organs without the need for extensive surgery. These techniques allow for accurate and timely diagnoses, which result in treatment plans that are tailored to individual circumstances.
The following, described in more detail below, are the most common reproductive imaging techniques:
Many of the reproductive imaging techniques can be performed quickly and conveniently at Frisco Institute for Reproductive Medicine, including a hysterosalpingogram, which is commonly performed in a community hospital, where appointments can be difficult to schedule.
An ultrasound, also called a sonogram, uses sound waves to create an image of what is happening within the body. Most people think of ultrasounds as being used to check on the fetal development of a baby, however ultrasound technology is an extremely useful diagnostic tool in many areas of medicine.In fertility medicine, ultrasounds are used as a non-invasive way to view the reproductive organs. Ultrasounds are helpful in diagnosing common fertility problems such as ovarian cysts and for monitoring follicle development during ovarian stimulation and IVF. An ultrasound can be performed transvaginally, within the vagina, or over the top of the abdomen.
A sonohysterogram uses a transvaginal ultrasound in combination with saline (salt) solution to produce a clearer picture of the uterus. The saline solution is injected into the uterus through a catheter placed in the cervix. Once the saline solution fills the uterus, ultrasound imaging can be used to give a much clearer picture of the uterus.
A sonohysterogram is helpful in detecting uterine adhesions (scarring), abnormal growths such as fibroids and polyps, and abnormalities in uterine shape or structure. All of these can inhibit fertility.
A hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is an x-ray test that looks at the uterus, Fallopian tubes and surrounding areas. A contrasting dye is injected unto the uterus through the cervix. Because the uterus and Fallopian tubes are connected, the dye will travel to the Fallopian tubes and will produce a clear picture of the area on the x-ray. A hysterosalpingogram is helpful in diagnosing injury or abnormalities of the uterus or blockages in the Fallopian tubes.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the pelvic area uses a magnetic field and radio waves to take accurate pictures of soft tissue, organs, muscles and blood vessels, without bones obstructing the view. A pelvic MRI can diagnose infertility, abnormal menstrual bleeding or pelvic pain.
Hysteroscopy is a surgical procedure in which a hysteroscope, a small telescope-like instrument with a small camera, is inserted into the uterus through the cervix. The surgeon views the inside of the uterus via the camera images shown on a video screen.
Hysteroscopy is typically used to diagnose and treat intrauterine fibroids, polyps, adhesions or repair a uterine septum. A surgeon can correct these problems during a hysteroscopy by using special instruments inserted through the operating channel of the hysteroscope.
Laparoscopy is the most invasive reproductive imaging tool, yet still involves minimally invasive surgery via small incisions that reduces scarring, discomfort and recovery time. Laparoscopy involves a camera and small surgical instruments being inserted into the abdominal cavity. Laparoscopic surgery is a tool used to treat endometriosis and remove uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts as well as remove pelvic scar tissue and treat abnormalities of the fallopian tubes. Laparoscopy can be solely diagnostic and it can also be utilized in conjunction with hysteroscopy.
Who should receive reproductive imaging?
A woman who is pregnant should have reproductive imaging, generally an ultrasound, to monitor the development of her child. Women who are experiencing infertility should also seek reproductive imaging as a diagnostic tool. The fertility specialist will recommend the reproductive imaging technique that will best diagnose a woman’s specific reproductive issue.
What are the risks of reproductive imaging?
Most reproductive imaging techniques are low-risk procedures. There is a small risk of contracting a pelvic infection. Antibiotics can be prescribed to combat any infection.
A common complication of a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is an allergic reaction to the iodine dye used for contrast of the organs. An allergic reaction is more likely if the woman is allergic to shellfish. Women should notify their doctor of any itchy or burning sensations after a hysterosalpingogram (HSG).
A hysteroscopy and laparoscopy are both surgical procedures and carry the risks of excessive blood loss, infection, puncture of organs (uterus, bladder or bowel) or reaction to the anesthesia. However, there is a less than 1% chance of any such complications arising
Prior to performing any reproductive imaging procedures, the doctor will explain the process and any risks associated with the procedure.