Few doctors have any idea how to remove Essure implants, despite removal being an increasingly common request from thousands of women who have experienced severe side effects. Nationwide, only around 30 physicians have removed enough Essure implants to be considered “experienced” in the procedures, according to a recent report in Modern Healthcare. The vast majority of physicians, on the other hand, are going on guess-work and luck.

Essure Removal Mistakes Common, Debilitating

Dr. Julio Novoa, an OB/GYN in Texas, says that most doctors are poorly-equipped to remove the implants safely. “You have a lot of doctors making mistakes removing them,” Novoa, a consultant for Essure Problems, told Modern Healthcare.

Essure Removal Doctor Infographic

This is not a small problem. Botched removal attempts can leave fragments of the metal implants inside a patient’s body, leading to ongoing pain and other significant complications. In some cases, pieces of a partially-removed implant have migrated away from the fallopian tubes, piercing internal organs.

When pressed for comment, Bayer spokesperson Rose Talarico advised Modern Healthcare to check the physician instruction packet that accompanies every package of Essure implants. While these instructions elaborate on multiple procedures that can be attempted to remove the devices, repeated warnings also dissuade removal in the first place. Essure is “intended to be left in place permanently,” the packet cautions, noting that the implantation procedure is “permanent and irreversible.”

Lack Of Data On Removing Essure

The viability of the removal techniques described has also been criticized. In one section, Bayer outlines using “gentle traction” to tease the implants out, a process Dr. Novoa likened to “grabbing a Slinky and trying to pull it when it’s attached to cement.” The relative merits of various removal techniques have not been adequately studied, says Dr. Shawn Tassone, another OB/GYN. Tassone hasn’t been able to find any “good data” on which removal methods will work best, which leaves individual doctors to make their own attempts and “come[…] up with a system that seems to have worked.” In other words, it’s a process of trial and error.

Essure Hysterectomy Infographic

If anything is clear, the healthcare establishment is struggling to deal with the fallout of a true public health crisis, a controversy exacerbated by what appears to be a lack of reliable information. Hundreds of thousands of women have experienced debilitating side effects after being implanted with Essure. Many turn to their doctors for a removal procedure, but find physicians who have no idea how to tackle the problem.

Hopefully, this situation will turn around in the future. The US Food & Drug Administration is currently working with Bayer to improve physician training materials.