Fallopian tubes are hollow organs which connect ovaries and uterus. Anatomical structure and physiological function of this organ are very complex. The upper end of the Fallopian tube can accept the ovum released from the ovarian follicle, and transport it through the lumen in order to meet the sperm cell, usually somewhere in the area between the upper and the middle third of the tube. The transportation process of the ovum and the sperm cell through the Fallopian tube is one of the most fascinating mechanisms in the human body, and it has not yet been fully uncovered.
Indications for Fallopian Tube(s) Removal
Removal of the Fallopian tube is called salpingectomy, and doctors perform it for several different purposes. Let’s see some of them.
- Ovarian cancer is the most common indication for this procedure. Different histological types of ovarian cancer have different potential for spreading to nearby organs and for making distant metastases. The type and the stage of the tumor are the factors which affect the most the decision about which pelvic organs need to be removed to stop the spreading of the tumor. Sometimes it is enough to remove just the affected ovary, in other cases salpingectomy is also required, and in most severe cases, the whole pelvis needs to be surgically “emptied," which is called pelvic exenteration.
- Ectopic pregnancy happens if the embryo attaches elsewhere than to the inner wall of the uterus. The most frequent location of ectopic pregnancy are Fallopian tubes. This condition is dangerous and it should be recognized in early stages, so the tube can be removed and ectopic pregnancy terminated.
- Sterilization in women can be performed in several different ways. During the past few decades, occlusion (clogging) of the Fallopian tubes has become very popular. This is a non-surgical procedure which leaves the Fallopian tubes occluded, and therefore, the fertilization is disabled. Statistical data have shown that in a significant number of cases the ovarian cancer primarily starts in the Fallopian tubes. This is the reason why many gynecologists recommend laparoscopic salpingectomy for sterilization purposes. This is a minimally invasive surgical procedure during which the Fallopian tubes are removed. This achieves sterilization, and at the same time lowers the risk of ovarian cancer.
- Other indications include chronic infections which won’t heal despite conservative treatment, irreparable mechanical damages of the pelvic organs due to injury, etc.
Fallopian Tube Removal Procedure
Classical surgical salpingectomy includes opening the pelvis under general anesthesia and removal of one or both Fallopian tubes, depending on the indication. We have mentioned laparoscopic salpingectomy, which offers lower chances for complications and faster recovery, but it is not recommended in cases of malign tumors.
Possible Side Effects
In terms of the ability to conceive, if there is one functional Fallopian tube, the chances are very good. On the other hand, if both Fallopian tubes are removed (bilateral salpingectomy), the woman can get pregnant only by IVF (in vitro fertilization), but not the natural way.
Some scientists are concerned about the potential damage of the ovarian function after salpingectomy. Although some of the adjacent ovarian tissue sometimes gets removed along with the Fallopian tube, studies have shown that salpingectomy does not affect ovarian function. Ovarian follicles continue to form and the ovaries continue to produce sex hormones in the same manner as before the salpingectomy.
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