Luttjeboer F, Harada T, Hughes E, Johnson N, Lilford R and Mol BW. Tubal flushing for subfertility. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2007:(3):CD003718.BACKGROUND:
A possible therapeutic effect of diagnostic tubal patency testing has been debated in the literature for half a century. Further debate surrounds whether oil-soluble or water-soluble contrast media might have the bigger fertility-enhancing effect.
To evaluate the effect of flushing a woman's fallopian tubes with oil- or water-soluble contrast media on subsequent fertility outcomes in couples with infertility.
We searched the Cochrane Menstrual Disorders and Subfertility Group's specialised register of trials (searched 31 January 2007), MEDLINE, EMBASE, Biological Abstract and reference lists of articles.
All randomised trials comparing tubal flushing with oil-soluble contrast media or tubal flushing with water-soluble media or with no treatment in women with subfertility.
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS:
Four authors independently assessed trial quality and extracted data. We contacted study authors for additional information. We collected adverse effects information from the trials.
Twelve trials involving 2079 participants were included. Tubal flushing with oil-soluble media versus no intervention was associated with a significant increase in the odds of live birth (Peto OR 2.98, 95% CI 1.40 to 6.37) and of pregnancy (Peto OR 3.30, 95% CI 2.00 to 5.43). For the comparison of tubal flushing with oil-soluble media versus tubal flushing with water-soluble media, the increase in the odds of live birth for tubalflushing with oil-soluble versus water-soluble media (Peto OR 1.49, 95% CI 1.05 to 2.11) was based on two trials where statistical heterogeneity was present and the higher quality trial showed no significant difference; there was no evidence of a significant difference in the odds of pregnancy (Peto OR 1.21, 95% CI 0.95 to 1.54). The addition of oil-soluble media to flushing with water-soluble media showed no evidence of a significant difference in the odds of pregnancy (Peto OR 1.28, 95% CI 0.92 to 1.79) or live birth (Peto OR 1.06, 95% CI 0.64 to 1.77). There were no serious adverse event reported.
There is evidence of effectiveness of tubal flushing with oil-soluble contrast media in increasing the odds of pregnancy and live birth versus no intervention. Future robust randomised trials, comparing oil-soluble versus water-soluble media, water-soluble media versus no intervention and tubal flushing versus established treatments for infertility would be a useful further guide to clinical practice.