What is salpingectomy?
Salpingectomy is the surgical removal of one (unilateral) or both (bilateral) fallopian tubes. Fallopian tubes allow eggs to travel from the ovaries to the uterus.
A partial salpingectomy is when you have only part of a fallopian tube removed.
Another procedure, salpingostomy (or neosalpingostomy), is when the surgeon makes an opening in the fallopian tube to remove its contents. The tube itself isn’t removed.
Continue reading to learn more about salpingectomy, why it’s done, and what you can expect.
What’s the difference between salpingectomy and salpingectomy-oophorectomy?
Salpingectomy is when only the fallopian tube or tubes are removed. Oophorectomy is removal of one or both ovaries.
When the two procedures are done at the same time, it’s called a salpingectomy-oophorectomy or salpingo-oophorectomy. Depending on the reasons for the surgery, salpingo-oophorectomy is sometimes combined with hysterectomy (removal of the uterus).
Salpingectomy alone or salpingo-oophorectomy can each be performed with open abdominal surgery or laparoscopic surgery.
Why is this done?
Salpingectomy can be used to treat a variety of problems. Your doctor might recommend it if you have:
- an ectopic pregnancy
- a blocked fallopian tube
- a ruptured fallopian tube
- an infection
- fallopian tube cancer
Fallopian tube cancer is rare, but it’s more common in women who carry BRCA gene mutations. Fallopian tube lesions occur in up to about half of women with BRCA gene mutations who also have ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer sometimes starts in the fallopian tubes. Prophylactic salpingectomy may reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer.
This procedure can also be used as a method of permanent birth control.
How do you prepare for the procedure?
Your surgeon will discuss the procedure with you and provide pre- and post-op instructions. These may vary depending on whether you’ll have open abdominal surgery or laparoscopic surgery. That is determined by factors such as the reason for the surgery, your age, and your general health.
Here are a few things to consider before surgery:
- Plan your transportation home. When you leave the hospital, you may still be groggy from anesthesia and your abdomen may be sore.
- Bring loose-fitting, comfortable clothing to wear home.
- If you take medications, ask your doctor if you should take them on the day of surgery.
- Ask your doctor how long you should fast before surgery.
What happens during the procedure?
Just before open abdominal surgery, you’ll be given general anesthesia. The surgeon will make an incision a few inches long on your lower abdomen. The fallopian tubes can be seen and removed from this incision. Then, the opening will be closed with stitches or staples.
Laparoscopic surgery is a less invasive procedure. It may be performed under general or local anesthesia.
A tiny incision will be made in your lower abdomen. A laparoscope is a long tool with a light and camera on the end. It will be inserted into the incision. Your abdomen will be inflated with gas. This allows your surgeon to get a clear view of your pelvic organs on a computer screen.
Then a few additional incisions will be made. They’ll be used to insert other tools to remove the fallopian tubes. These incisions will likely be less than half an inch long. Once the tubes are out, the small incisions will be closed.
What’s the recovery like?
After surgery, you’ll go to the recovery room for monitoring. It will take some time to fully wake from the anesthesia. You might have some nausea as well as soreness and mild pain around the incisions.
If you had outpatient surgery, you won’t be released until you can stand up and have emptied your bladder.
Follow your doctor’s recommendations for resuming normal activities. It may take only a few days, but it’s possible it could be longer. Avoid heavy lifting or strenuous exercise for at least a week.
Once home, be sure to alert your doctor if you:
- develop a fever and chills
- have worsening pain or nausea
- notice discharge, redness, or swelling around the incisions
- have unexpected heavy vaginal bleeding
- can’t empty your bladder
Incisions from laparoscopic surgery are smaller and tend to heal more quickly than those of abdominal surgery.
Everyone recovers at their own rate. But, generally speaking, you can expect a full recovery within three to six weeks after abdominal surgery or two to four weeks after laparoscopy.
What are the potential complications?
There are risks to any type of surgery, including a bad reaction to anesthesia. Laparoscopy can take more time than open surgery, so you may be under anesthesia longer. Other risks of salpingectomy include:
- infection (the risk of infection is lower with laparoscopy than with open surgery)
- internal bleeding or bleeding at the surgical site
- damage to blood vessels or nearby organs
A study of 136 women who had salpingectomy in conjunction with cesarean section found that complications were rare.
Although it takes a little longer, laparoscopic salpingectomy has been found to be a safe alternative to tubal occlusion. Because it’s more effective and may offer some protection from ovarian cancer, it’s an additional option for women seeking sterilization.
What’s the outlook?
The overall prognosis is good.
If you still have your ovaries and uterus, you’ll continue to have periods.
Removal of one fallopian tube won’t make you infertile. You’ll still need contraception.
Removal of both fallopian tubes means you can’t conceive a child and won’t need contraception. However, if you still have your uterus, it may be possible to carry a baby with the help of in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Before having salpingectomy, discuss your fertility plans with your doctor or a fertility specialist.