When the sterilization device Essure perforates a woman’s fallopian tube, it can migrate into the abdomen and cause life-threatening organ damage or bowel perforations.
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Essure migration into the uterus is a well-known risk that most often occurs in the first month after placement — often as a result of not inserting Essure far enough. However, Essure (or its broken fragments) can also spontaneously migrate into the abdomen after puncturing the fallopian tube or the uterus.
Complications Linked to Essure Migration
Essure devices that have migrated into the abdomen can cause severe injuries, including organ perforations to the intestines, bladder, ureter, ovary, or uterus. An allergic reaction to nickel can also cause inflammation.
Complications linked to Essure migration:
- Chronic pain
- Small bowel perforation
- Unintended pregnancy
- Small bowel obstruction due to Essure entanglement or inflammation
- Local inflammation
- Organ damage
- Follow-up surgery
Essure implants that migrate are typically removed with laparoscopic (minimally-invasive) surgery, which carries a low risk of complications. However, retrieval of Essure can be very complex. Multiple surgeries may be necessary if surgeons accidentally leave broken fragments of Essure behind.
Woman Needs Surgery After Essure Migrates and “Strangles” Intestines
In September 2012, the journal Contraception published a case report of a 42 year-old woman who developed nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and bloating one month after receiving Essure.
She was diagnosed with a small bowel obstruction, and doctors wrote: “[Essure] had caused strangulation and local perforation of the bowel wall.” She underwent emergency surgery to remove Essure and cut out the injured portion of her intestines.
Symptoms of an Intestinal Perforation
- Severe abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Excessive fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- And more
FDA Receives Hundreds of Reports of Essure Migration
Between November 2002 (Essure’s approval date) and May 2015, the FDA received 5,093 reports of adverse events linked to Essure. Of these, 482 reports involved migration of Essure or its components. In 2013, the FDA completed a review of Essure and updated the patient brochure to warn about migration and chronic pelvic pain.
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