Salpingitis

Inflammation of the Fallopian tubes, usually affecting both sides of the body and the surrounding abdominal tissue. It is caused by gonococci, which cause gonorrhoea, or by bacteria. The condition occurs more frequently with the use of intra-uterine devices and in patients with numerous sexual partners. There is a greater chance of infection during menstruation and labour, because the mouth of the womb is wider open. Salpingitis is usually associated with backache and high fever, and sometimes with a pus-like discharge from the vagina. Pain is felt if the mouth of the womb is moved during internal examination, and the doctor can sometimes feel thickening of the Fallopian tubes. Blood tests show a high sedimentation rate and a high white blood cell count, signs of a serious infection. It is usual to prepare a bacterial culture. A possible complication is blockage of the Fallopian tube by scar tissue, an important factor in unwanted infertility. If the condition is neglected, potentially fatal peritonitis can develop. Treatment is with antibiotics and bed rest. Painkillers may be given, and a healthy diet is important. Some doctors prescribe corticosteroids against scar formation, but such treatment involves certain risks. Treatment is in hospital until blood condition returns to normal; after 6 months a check can be made to establish whether the Fallopian tubes are open.

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