Difficult etonogestrel implant removals in South Africa: A review of 74 referred cases

Contraception. 2020 Aug;102(2):129-132. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2020.04.013. Epub 2020 Apr 24.


Objectives: To assess etonogestrel contraceptive implant location and outcomes among women referred for "difficult" removal to a specialist clinic in South Africa.

Study design: We performed a retrospective review of cases referred to our clinic for removal of nonpalpable, deep, migrated, or damaged implants, or failed removals from March to August 2017.

Results: Most (n = 68, 92%) of the 74 referrals were nonpalpable in our clinic. We used ultrasound for localization and successfully removed 72 implants (97%) in the outpatient clinic.

Conclusion: With proper protocols and equipment, localization and removal of nonpalpable implants can be safely and effectively achieved in an outpatient African setting.

Implications: Access to providers specially trained in ultrasound localization should be available in all settings where implants are offered. Providing timely access to safe and effective implant removals in routine and difficult cases is essential to ensuring that implant programs are in alignment with rights-based, client-centered family planning principles.

Keywords: Contraceptive implant; Difficult removal; Etonogestrel implant; South Africa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Contraceptive Agents, Female*
  • Desogestrel
  • Device Removal
  • Drug Implants
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • South Africa


  • Contraceptive Agents, Female
  • Drug Implants
  • etonogestrel
  • Desogestrel