Hysterosalpingography (HSG) requires the infusion of radiographic contrast dye via the HSG catheter. This radiologic procedure uses X-rays to determine if there are blockages in the fallopian tubes and where they may be located as the dye travels through the reproductive tract. Sonohysterography, on the other hand, uses sterile saline to help render images of the uterus and any abnormalities with the aid of a transabdominal ultrasound.
Alternatives to hysterosalpingography and sonohysterography include hysteroscopy and transvaginal ultrasounds, which do not necessitate the use of HSG catheters. As these procedures are often used to examine fertility, other procedures that compete with the fertility testing aspect of HSG catheter use are home ovulation test kits, blood tests to check hormone levels and cervical functioning tests.
HSG catheters contain a soft plastic sheath, with the catheter and stopper on one end and a stopcock on the other for the infusion of contrast media or sterile fluid. It is necessary for HSG catheters to have stoppers that obstruct the external cervical opening in order to facilitate the retention of fluid within the uterus. These blocking elements may be latex or latex-free balloons, or be a foam based stopper. The sheath of the catheter is traditionally flexible, but may be available in rigid as well as malleable forms for difficult cases or easier insertion.