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Hysterosalpingogram (HSG): About This Test

Female reproductive system (front view)

What is it?

A hysterosalpingogram (say "hiss-ter-oh-sal-PING-oh-gram"), or HSG, is an X-ray test of the uterus and fallopian tubes. A dye is put into the uterus and fallopian tubes before the pictures are taken. An HSG may be done if you are having a hard time getting pregnant or you've had repeated miscarriages.

Why is this test done?

An HSG is done to:

  • Check for a blocked fallopian tube.
  • Find problems in the uterus, such as an abnormal shape or structure.
  • Look for an injury, polyps, fibroids, adhesions, or a foreign object in the uterus.

How do you prepare for the test?

  • Schedule your test for when you won't be having your period. Your doctor may suggest that the test be done soon after your period ends and before your ovary releases an egg (ovulates). This timing allows your doctor to see the inside of your uterus better. It also avoids doing the test when you could be pregnant.
  • Tell your doctor about any allergies that you have and any medicines you take. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any medicines before the procedure.
  • Your doctor may have you take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as ibuprofen, about an hour before your test. This can help with cramps and pain during the test.
  • You may want to bring a sanitary pad to wear after the test. That's because some of the dye may leak from your vagina after the test. You may also have some slight bleeding.

How is the test done?

  • You'll be asked to take off your clothes below the waist and drape a gown around your waist.
  • You will need to empty your bladder.
  • You will lie on your back on an examination table with your feet and legs supported by footrests.
  • You may take ibuprofen to help with cramps or pain during the test. You may also get a sedative to help you relax.
  • The doctor may place a tool called a speculum into your vagina. It opens the vagina a little bit so your doctor can see inside.
  • A thin tube is put through the cervix into the uterus. A dye is put through the tube.
  • The X-ray pictures are shown on a video screen during the test.

What are the risks of this test?

  • There is always a small chance of damage to cells or tissue from being exposed to any radiation. This can include the low levels of radiation used for this test. The chance of damage from the X-rays is generally very low compared with the possible benefits of the test.
  • There is a small chance of a pelvic infection after the test. Your doctor may give you antibiotics if they think you might get a pelvic infection.
  • There is a small chance of damaging or puncturing the uterus or fallopian tubes during the test.
  • There is a small chance of an allergic reaction to the iodine X-ray dye.

How long does the test take?

The test will take about 15 to 30 minutes.

What happens after the test?

  • You will probably be able to go home right away.
  • You can go back to your usual activities right away.
  • Some of the dye may leak out of your vagina.
  • You may have some vaginal bleeding for several days after the test.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have vaginal discharge that has increased in amount or smells bad.
  • You have new or worse pain in your pelvis.
  • You have new or worse vaginal bleeding.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to keep a list of the medicines you take. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your test results.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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