Tubal anastomosis after previous sterilization: A systematic review

Jacoba A.H. van Seeters*, Su Jen Chua, Ben W.J. Mol, Carolien A.M. Koks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Female sterilization is one of the most common contraceptive methods. A small number of women, however, opt for reversal of sterilization procedures after they experience regret. Procedures can be performed by laparotomy or laparoscopy, with or without robotic assistance. Another commonly utilized alternative is IVF. The choice between surgery and IVF is often influenced by reimbursement politics for that particular geographic location.OBJECTIVE AND RATIONALE: We evaluated the fertility outcomes of different surgical methods available for the reversal of female sterilization, compared these to IVF and assessed the prognostic factors for success.SEARCH METHODS: Two search strategies were employed. Firstly, we searched for randomized and non-randomized clinical studies presenting fertility outcomes of sterilization reversal up to July 2016. Data on the following outcomes were collected: pregnancy rate, ectopic pregnancy rate, cost of the procedure and operative time. Eligible study designs included prospective or retrospective studies, randomized controlled trials, cohort studies, case-control studies and case series. No age restriction was applied. Exclusion criteria were patients suffering from tubal infertility from any other reason (e.g. infection, endometriosis and adhesions from previous surgery) and studies including <10 participants. The following factors likely to influence the success of sterilization reversal procedures were then evaluated: female age, BMI and duration and method of sterilization. Secondly, we searched for randomized and non-randomized clinical studies that compared reversal of sterilization to IVF and evaluated them for pregnancy outcomes and cost effectiveness.OUTCOMES: We included 37 studies that investigated a total of 10 689 women. No randomized controlled trials were found. Most studies were retrospective cohort studies of a moderate quality. The pooled pregnancy rate after sterilization reversal was 42-69%, with heterogeneity seen from the different methods utilized. The reported ectopic pregnancy rate was 4-8%. The only prognostic factor affecting the chance of conception was female age. The surgical approach (i.e. laparotomy [microscopic], laparoscopy or robotic) had no impact on the outcome, with the exception of the macroscopic laparotomic technique, which had inferior results and is not currently utilized. For older women, IVF could be a more cost-effective alternative for the reversal of sterilization. However, direct comparative data are lacking and a cut-off age cannot be stated.WIDER IMPLICATIONS: In sterilized women who suffer regret, surgical tubal re-anastomosis is an effective treatment, especially in younger women. However, there is a need for randomized controlled trials comparing the success rates and costs of surgical reversal with IVF.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberdmx003
Pages (from-to)358-370
Number of pages13
JournalHuman Reproduction Update
Issue number3
Early online date22 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - May 2017


  • Fallopian tubes
  • IVF
  • Pregnancy rate
  • Re-anastomosis
  • Refertilization
  • Sterilization reversal
  • Tubal anastomosis


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