Salpingectomy Surgery: Everything You Need to Know

The fallopian tube is the channel between the uterus and the ovaries which allows an egg to be transferred from an ovary to the uterus for a woman to become pregnant.

Salpingectomy is the removal of one or both of the fallopian tubes that results in female sterilization. By removing this structure, it becomes almost physically impossible to become pregnant without in vitro fertilization.

What Is Salpingectomy?

The removal of the fallopian tubes is typically performed laparoscopically, meaning small incisions are made and a camera is used to look inside the abdomen. This is less invasive than a small laparotomy, where an incision a couple inches long is made by the surgeon to perform the surgery.

It is generally an outpatient procedure for a laparoscopic approach, and will be an inpatient procedure with a short hospital stay if the surgery is performed. This surgery is not usually emergent, unless a patient is experiencing an ectopic pregnancy.

Team of women surgeons in the operating room

Georgiy Datsenko / Getty Images

Contraindications

The age of the woman and whether she already has biological children are taken into consideration because of the permanence of this type of sterilization. Previous surgeries or medical conditions such as morbid obesity may prevent this procedure from being a possibility, but that is a decision for your surgeon to make. 

Surgical sterilization should also be avoided during periods of high stress (for example, following miscarriage or a divorce) or while under pressure from a partner. Research has shown that women who make this decision at younger than 30 years old are more likely to regret having the procedure for the purpose of sterilization.

How Common Is Female Sterilization in the United States?

Female sterilization is the most commonly used form of contraception worldwide, and 25.1% of reproductive-age women in the United States use sterilization as their method of contraception. This equates to an estimated 600,000 surgical sterilizations performed annually in the United States.

Potential Risks

The risks of laparoscopic salpingectomy are minimal and depend on the approach. Most of the risks are related to general anesthesia. As with any surgery, there are risks for potential complications associated with having this type of procedure, which include:

  • Risk of injury to the bowel, bladder, or major blood vessels
  • Burn injuries to surrounding tissues or structures if an electric current is used to remove the tube
  • Bleeding
  • Infection

Purpose of Salpingectomy Surgery

Prior to undergoing surgery, patients will have a pregnancy test, a screening for sexually transmitted infections, a Pap smear, and an ultrasound if there are any suspected pelvic masses.

This surgery may be performed for the purpose of sterilization or in tandem with removal of other female organs in the treatment of gynecologic cancer or other medical conditions. When patients are believed to have ovarian or uterine cancer, surgery is one way to diagnose the cancer.

Ovarian Cancer Doctor Discussion Guide

woman doctor discussion guide

Depending on the patient, the surgeon will decide if all of the pelvic organs (uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes) need to be removed. Also during surgery, samples of lymph nodes will be taken. These will be examined in a lab to determine if the cancer has spread from one area to the surrounding tissues.

A single fallopian tube is typically removed in the treatment of ectopic pregnancy, when the egg is fertilized in the fallopian tube and becomes implanted in the tube instead of the uterus.

Complete removal of the fallopian tube compared with tubal ligation (burning, banding, or clipping of the fallopian tube and leaving it behind) is associated with lower risks of ovarian cancer later in life.

How to Prepare

This procedure will be scheduled through your doctor’s office in advance. Choosing to have salpingectomy surgery for sterilization is considered elective, as there are other ways to prevent pregnancy.

For suspected cancer cases, it is necessary to have surgery because it is the one of the first steps in treatment of gynecologic cancer. You should expect to take the day off from work for the procedure, and you may need one or more days to recover before returning to work.

Location

Salpingectomy takes place in a hospital operating room or outpatient surgery center with a surgical team of a surgeon, resident, physician assistant or nurse practitioner, surgical nurses, scrub technologists, and an anesthesia team to monitor the patient under general anesthesia.

Food and Drink

The surgeon will direct patients not to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the surgery. Certain medications can be taken with small sips of water, but nothing else should be consumed unless otherwise directed by the surgeon.

Medications

Patients should provide a thorough list of current medications and alert the surgeon to any changes in or skipped medications on the day of surgery. The surgeon will determine if medications that cause increased bleeding should be continued or stopped.

It’s essential to let your surgeon know about any prescribed medications, over-the-counter medications, supplements, vitamins, or recreational drugs you are using.

What to Wear

It’s important to arrive on the day of surgery wearing comfortable pants, shoes, and potentially a sweater or jacket because the hospital can be cold.

What to Bring

Bring a photo ID and your insurance cards on the day of the surgery. A support person will be required to drive you home from the hospital. You will not be able to drive due to anesthesia medications given during the procedure that would impair your driving ability. 

Pre-Op Lifestyle Changes

As with any surgery, it’s critical to stop smoking prior to surgery because it can cause delayed wound healing or lead to postoperative surgical site infections and other healing complications. It is recommended to stop smoking at least four weeks prior to surgery to mitigate complications.

What to Expect on the Day of Surgery

On the day of the salpingectomy, give yourself extra time to find parking and to locate the surgery check-in area in the hospital. You should check in at the predetermined arrival time to give the pre-surgical teams ample time to prepare you for surgery. 

Before the Surgery

In the preoperative area on the day of the surgery, a nurse will assess your vital signs, weight, pregnancy status (if applicable), and blood sugar level (if applicable). Patients will remove their clothes and jewelry, and change into a surgical patient gown. Documents such as surgical and anesthesia consents will be reviewed and signed. 

The anesthesia team will complete another thorough assessment to determine any risks to undergoing general anesthesia. An IV (intravenous) catheter will be placed to provide any medications that will be needed during surgery.

Upon entering the operating room, it will be very cold and already set up with a special surgical bed, medical equipment and monitors, and numerous instruments needed for surgery. You will go to sleep on your back, and the surgical team will position you for surgery after the anesthesia team places the breathing tube (endotracheal tube) that is hooked up to the ventilator for breathing.

The surgical team will prep the skin of the surgical site with an antiseptic solution, and sterile drapes will be placed around the area to maintain a clean working area throughout the surgery.

During the Surgery

The steps of the laparoscopic salpingectomy are as follows:

  • A small incision is made in the abdomen to place the tiny camera, and a separate incision is made for the surgeon to use for an instrument to perform the procedure.
  • The fallopian tubes are then clipped, cut, banded, or burned through the tissue.
  • The tubes are removed from the body.
  • The surgeon removes the instruments and camera, and then closes the tiny incisions with small sutures.
  • Small dressings—either adhesive bandages or medical-grade skin glue—will be applied to keep the incisions clean, dry, and intact.

After the Surgery

The patient will be brought out of surgery to the post-anesthesia recovery unit, where they will recover for two to four hours. As with any surgery, there will be pain following surgery. Most patients will be discharged home the same day, depending on how well the patient is feeling following the procedure.

Recovery

Most people return back to normal activities and routines within a week. Post-operative symptoms can include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Shoulder pain
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Gassy or bloated feeling
  • Sore throat if a breathing tube was placed for the procedure

Healing

The dressings should remain in place as long as directed by your doctor. If the incisions begin to bleed or leak pus, it’s important to get in touch with your surgeon right away. 

A Word From Verywell

Salpingectomy surgery results in sterilization, but it can also remove cancerous tissue. While the procedure is minimally invasive, it does carry small amounts of risk.

Tubal sterilization does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases. Women undergoing this surgery should carefully consider the consequences of permanent sterilization to prevent sterilization regret. 

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4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Marino S, Canela CD, Nama N. Tubal sterilization. StatPearls. Updated September 7, 2020.

  2. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Sterilization by laparoscopy. Updated August 2019.

  3. Zerden ML, Castellano T, Doll KM, Stuart GS, Munoz MC, Boggess KA. Risk-reducing salpingectomy versus standard tubal sterilization: lessons from offering women options for interval sterilizationSouth Med J. 2018 111(3), 173–177. doi:10.14423/SMJ.0000000000000779

  4. Sørensen LT. Wound healing and infection in surgery—the clinical impact of smoking and smoking cessation: a systematic review and meta-analysisArch Surg. 2012;147(4):373–383. doi:10.1001/archsurg.2012.5