Mind & Body

Portuguese Woman Undergoes Surgery After Contraceptive Implant Moves to Lung

TIMEJuly 20, 2019

In what has been described as a “very rare” occurrence, a 31-year-old Portuguese woman had to be hospitalized after experiencing some unusual vaginal bleeding.

The woman is said to have used a contraceptive implant for eight years—a small hormone-releasing rod, which had been implanted in her arm—but only in the last 3 months started to notice the bleeding.

After being taken to a hospital in Viana do Castelo, doctors were initially unable to locate the implant, reported The Sun.

Doctors then performed a CT scan and noticed that the rod had somehow repositioned itself in the lower half of the woman’s left lung.

A medical report stated, “Risk factors for [implant] migration are placement technique—if introduced deeply migration can occur into the venous system and then to the pulmonary arterial system.

A hospital scene.
A surgical operating room. (Piron Guillaume/Unsplash)

“And the practice of vigorous physical exercise after correct placement, which seems to increase the risk of vascular migration.”

Doctors believe the implant could have been placed too deeply into the woman’s arm, causing it to enter her bloodstream and travel through her body.

Surgery to remove the implant was successful, and the woman—who remains unnamed—was said to have recovered quickly; according to The Mirror she was able to return home after 4 days.

The bleeding was believed to have been due to the contraceptive implant becoming ineffective, causing the woman’s period to resume.

While such an occurrence is rare, similar cases have been reported, leading experts to suggest that women with such implants check its placement on a regular basis.

A hospital scene.
A surgical operating room. (Piron Guillaume/Unsplash)

Dr Tania Adib, a consultant gynecologist at the Kensington Medical Chambers, told The Daily Mail: “The risk of the contraceptive implant traveling is extremely low.

“Risk is higher if it isn’t placed beneath the skin properly, e.g. it is placed too deeply.

“The risk is higher in women who are very thin and those who are placing the implants should have specific training in how to insert them properly to reduce the risk.

“Women should also check their arms regularly to ensure they can feel the implant and if they can no longer feel it they should check this.”

How the Contraceptive Implant Functions

The contraceptive implant is a little flexible rod placed just under the skin of the upper left arm. It releases a synthetic progestogen hormone that is similar to the naturally occurring progesterone produced by the ovaries.

A hospital scene.
A surgical operating room. (Piron Guillaume/Unsplash)

The implant, referred to as Nexplanon, is effective for up to three years. It secrets chemicals to prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg, and also thickens the mucus from the cervix making it difficult for sperm to get through.

It also causes the uterus lining to become thinner, making it less likely for a fertilized egg to be accepted.

The implant is not recommended for women who have heart disease, liver disease, or who are pregnant.