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Fertil Steril. 1992 Jun;57(6):1151-76.

Was the Dalkon Shield a safe and effective intrauterine device? The conflict between case-control and clinical trial study findings.

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  • 1Center for Research on Population and Security, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.



To compare the findings of the case-control and cohort studies used to indict the Dalkon Shield (A.H. Robins Company, Inc., Richmond, VA) with the findings of the Dalkon Shield clinical trials.


All published reports on the Dalkon Shield were identified through MEDLARS system (United States National Library of Medicine) searches and by cross checking all references in these reports. The same approach was used to identify all case-control and cohort studies of the purported relationship between intrauterine devices (IUDs) and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).


Only studies of interval patients that included 50 or more women and 6 or more months of follow up that computed standard IUD event rates (rates of pregnancy and expulsion and removal for pain and bleeding) were selected for this study. All case-control and cohort studies identified were included except two case-control studies that included women with sterile chronic salpingitis.


The 16 case-control and 2 cohort studies found or suggested that the Dalkon Shield increased the risk of PID. The 71 clinical trials of the Dalkon Shield show that when this device is inserted by an experienced clinician it is a safe and effective contraceptive method, comparable with other IUDs used at the time. There was no evidence of an increased risk of PID found in these clinical trials.


This study offers convincing evidence that the indictment of the Dalkon Shield was a mistake. Additionally, this study shows that physician skill and experience is far more important to successful IUD insertion than previously recognized, a finding with considerable implications for IUD study designs and for marketing strategies.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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