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Is Tubal Ligation a Safe Procedure?

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Updated May 05, 2005

Question: Is Tubal Ligation a Safe Procedure?
Answer: Tubal ligation is a safe and effective method of birth control. Although death from tubal ligation is extremely rare, it may occur about one to four times out of 100,000 tubal ligations. The cause of death is usually either hypoventilation or cardiopulmonary arrest while under general anesthesia. Major complications are also rare, occurring in one percent to three and a half percent of tubal ligations. The overall complication rate associated with tubal ligation is approximately 0.9 to1.6 per 100 tubal ligation procedures. The most common complications of tubal ligation include both intraoperative and postoperative include:

  • Intraoperative complications such as:

    • Unintended, unplanned major surgery or laparotomy due to a problem during the tubal ligation procedure, This complication occurs at a rate of approximately 0.9 per 100 tubal ligation procedures.

    • Blood transfusions

    • A life-threatening event

    • Death

    • Postoperative complications include those that occur intraoperatively, as well as:

      • Febrile morbidity

      • Rehospitalization

      • Death caused by a complication that occurs up to 42 days of your tubal ligation surgery.

      Can gynecologists predict who is more likely to have complications both during and after tubal ligation surgery? Yes. The following factors often play a role in tubal ligation surgery complications:

      • General anesthesia

      • Previous abdominal or pelvic surgery -- my own tubal ligation had this particular complication which resulted in major surgery due to adhesions from my previous surgeries.

      • Diabetes

      • Obesity

      Source: ACOG Practice Bulletin

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