Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Davis

UC Davis Previously Published Works bannerUC Davis

Referral Center Experience With Nonpalpable Contraceptive Implant Removals.



To describe our experience with office removal of nonpalpable contraceptive implants at our referral center.


We performed a retrospective cohort study by reviewing the charts of patients referred to our family planning specialty center for nonpalpable or complex contraceptive implant removal from January 2015 through December 2018. We localized nonpalpable implants using high-frequency ultrasonography and skin mapping in radiology, followed by attempted removal in the office using local anesthesia and a modified vasectomy clamp. We abstracted information on demographics, implant location, and outcomes.


Of 61 referrals, 55 patients attended their scheduled appointments. Seven patients had palpable implants; six elected removal. The other 48 patients had ultrasound localization, which identified 47 (98%) of the implants; the remaining patient had successful localization with computed tomography imaging. Nonpalpable implants were suprafascial (n=22), subfascial (n=25) and intrafascial (n=1); four of these patients opted to delay removal. Of 50 attempted office removals, all palpable (n=6), all nonpalpable suprafascial (n=21 [100%, 95% CI 83-100%]), and 19 out of 23 (83%, 95% CI 67-98%) subfascial implants were successful. Three of the four patients with failed subfascial implant office removal had successful operating room removal with a collaborative orthopedic surgeon; the other patient sought removal elsewhere. Transient postprocedure neuropathic complaints were noted in 7 out of 23 (30%, 95% CI 12-49%) subfascial and 1 out of 21 (5%, 95% CI 0-13%) suprafascial removals (P=.048). Nonpalpable implants were more likely to be subfascial in nonobese patients (24/34, 71%) as compared with obese (1/13, 8%) patients (P<.001). Seven (28%) of the 25 subfascially located implants had been inserted during a removal-reinsertion procedure through the same incision.


Most nonpalpable contraceptive implants can be removed in the office by an experienced subspecialty health care provider after ultrasound localization. Some patients may experience transient postprocedure neuropathic pain. Nonpalpable implants in thinner women are more likely to be in a subfascial location.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View