Tubal sterilization is the most common method of contraception among married women in the United States. The risk of failure of tubal ligation is 1-2% over a 10 year period. When failure occurs, approximately 30% of pregnancies are ectopic pregnancies (pregnancy in the fallopian tube). Overall 1-2% of women may regret tubal ligation and it’s more common in women who are younger than age 30 at the time of tubal sterilization. Factors that impact the decision to have reversal of tubal sterilization (tubal reversal) include a change in marital status, death of a child, having only boys or girls prior to sterilization and the desire to expand the family.
Tubal reversal is generally done under microscopic approach through a lower horizontal abdominal incision measuring 6 cm (minilaparotomy). The surgery may take 2-3 hours depending on the difficulty of the case. General anesthesia is required, but most patients can be discharged home the same day (outpatient surgery) because of the small abdominal incision. Recovery is relatively fast and patients may return to work fairly quickly within
The success rate of tubal reversal can be as high as 70% in patients less than 35 and 50% in patients above age 35. In patients above the age of 40 the live birth rate is approximately 15%. Success rates after tubal reversal are not dependent on the length of the remaining tube (as long as the final length is ≥ 4 cm), site of tubal ligation and length of time from ligation to reversal. On the other hand success rates are significantly dependent on the age of the patient and other factors that may affect fertility such as ovulatory disorders and male factor.
Patients who are candidates for tubal reversal need an evaluation of ovarian reserve by a day 3 FSH and estradiol level, a hysterosalpingogram (dye test to visualize endometrial cavity and fallopian tubes), semen analysis and documentation of ovulation. Patients who have abnormalities in one of these tests should be counseled on the possibility of decreased success rates after tubal reversal. These patients may be better served by undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
The risk factors of tubal reversal are