Health Tests

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What Happens During the Test?

This test takes place in the x-ray department. You lie on your back on a table with your knees bent and your feet in footrests, as you would for a pelvic examination. Most doctors feel your uterus to determine its size and shape by pressing inside your vagina with two fingers and pressing down on your lower abdomen with the other hand. A speculum (a device that looks like a duck-bill that can be opened and closed) is used to open the vagina so that your doctor can see inside. You may feel slight pressure from this.

Your vagina and cervix (the part of your uterus that the doctor can see inside your vagina) are cleaned with an antibacterial soap. A thin clamp might be clipped onto your cervix to hold it steady while the dye is put into your uterus. The doctor pushes a small bendable plastic tube gently through the opening in your cervix into your uterus. A tiny balloon on the end of the tube is filled with air to hold it temporarily in place.

The speculum is then removed, but the thin tube is left in place, with one end (about 6 inches of tubing) remaining outside of your vagina. Your doctor might have you change position at this time, so that you are lying more comfortably. A small amount of x-ray dye (about a tablespoon) is injected through the tube into your uterus, and several x-ray pictures are taken that may show up on a video screen for your doctor to see. Your doctor might ask you to move your pelvis slightly or roll from side to side to provide the clearest view of your uterus and tubes. When the x-rays are done, the balloon is emptied of air from the outside and the tube is gently pulled out.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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