History of Tubal Sterilization
The first tubal sterilization procedure, reported in 1881, was tubal ligation and resection. Ligation and resection – or ‘tying tubes’ was the most common surgery for sterilization until the advent of laparoscopic surgery in the mid 1900′s. As laparoscopic surgery became more popular, electrocoagulation (electrical burning) of the fallopian tubes became an additional method of surgical sterilization. Tubal sterilization by electrocoagulation uses electric current to cut and destroy the portion of the tube that is exposed to the electric current. These portions of the tube eventually heal and close.
Monopolar Tubal Coagulation
The initial method of laparoscopic tubal coagulation, in 1962, used a type of electrical current termed monopolar current. Monopolar tubal electrocoagulation was a popular type of laparoscopic sterilization through the 1970′s and 1980′s. The medical community began to realize that the complication rate from this form of electric surgery was higher than for other electric surgical methods of tubal sterilization. Sterilization procedures done by monopolar current have gradually been replaced with bipolar current.
Bipolar Electrocoagulation of the Fallopian Tubes
The first reported sterilization using bipolar electrocoagulation was in 1972. This was done via a laparoscope inserted just under the belly button. During bipolar coagulation, the electrical current can be more precisely controlled, resulting in less tubal damage than monopolar coagulation. This sterilization procedure results in higher reversal success rates than monopolar electrocoagulation.
Reversing Tubal Sterilization
Many people, including doctors, mistakenly believe that tubal sterilization is permanent and irreversible. Although bipolar coagulation sterilization is intended to be permanent, this procedure can be reversed successfully in almost all cases. The success rates depend on how many different areas of the tube were damaged with electrocautery. Approximately 60- 70% of patients at Chapel Hill Tubal Reversal Center become pregnant after a reversal of a bipolar coagulation sterilization procedure. Chapel Hill Tubal Reversal Center is the only medical facility that specializes exclusively in reversal of tubal ligation. We perform tubal ligation reversals every day, and our tubal reversal doctors are experts in reversing all types of tubal ligations- or ‘untying’ tubes that have been ‘tied’!
Submitted by Dr. Charles Monteith