Some common causes
of infertility in both women and men can now be treated without surgery by
interventional radiologists. Often these treatments do not require
hospitalization or general anesthesia. Patients usually may return to normal
activity shortly after the procedure.
Female Infertility: Blockage of the Fallopian Tube
The most common cause of female infertility is a blockage of the fallopian tube
through which eggs pass from the ovary to the uterus. Occasionally, these tubes
become plugged or narrowed, preventing successful pregnancy.
Interventional radiologists can diagnose and treat a blockage in the fallopian
tubes with a nonsurgical procedure known as Fallopian Tube Recanalization
(FTR). In the procedure, which does not require an incision, a thin tube
(catheter) is placed into the uterus. A contrast agent, or dye, is injected
through the catheter, and an X-ray image of the uterine cavity is obtained. When
a blockage of the fallopian tube is identified, another catheter is threaded
into the fallopian tube to open the blockage.
Male Infertility: Treatment for Varicoceles
Varicoceles -- tangled blood vessels, or varicose veins, in the testicles is a
major cause of male infertility. Interventional radiologists treat varicoceles
without surgery with a procedure known as varicocele embolization. A thin tube
(catheter) is threaded through a small nick in the skin and into the affected
vein in the testicle. An embolization agent -- either a drug, a small balloon or
tiny metal coils -- is injected through the catheter to block off the varicocele.
The swollen vessel shrinks, often resolving the infertility problem.
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