Tubal flushing with lipiodol shows promise in treatment of unexplained infertility

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – In couples with unexplained infertility, tubal flushing with lipiodol, an oil-soluble medium, is associated with an improved pregnancy rate, according to a report by British researchers.

Oil-based media are often used to investigate tubal patency during hysterosalpingography (HSG). A recent report showed that women who underwent HSG using oil-based media were more likely to become pregnant than women who had received water-based media, suggesting that the use of oil-based media may also be of therapeutic value.

Dr. David Nugent, from the University of Leeds, and colleagues randomized the female partner of 34 couples with unexplained infertility to undergo a single tubal flush with lipiodol or no treatment.

Based on biochemical and clinical measures, five women in the lipiodol group became pregnant compared with no women in the control group (p < 0.05). One of the pregnant women miscarried, while the remainder reached term uneventfully. No complications occurred in either group.

Further studies are needed to determine the mechanism of action of lipiodol, the authors note. "Regardless of the mechanism,…lipiodol could prove a useful treatment in couples with unexplained infertility, particularly in circumstances in which there are limited resources available for more expensive and invasive reproductive technologies," Dr. Nugent's team concludes.

Fertil Steril 2002;77:173-175.

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