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N Engl J Med. 1997 Mar 13;336(11):762-7.

The risk of ectopic pregnancy after tubal sterilization. U.S. Collaborative Review of Sterilization Working Group.

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Division of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30341-3724, USA.



Tubal sterilization is an increasingly common method of contraception in the United States. Although pregnancy after sterilization is uncommon, it can occur and may be ectopic. We used data from the U.S. Collaborative Review of Sterilization to estimate the risk of ectopic pregnancy in women who had undergone the common types of tubal sterilization.


A total of 10,685 women undergoing tubal sterilization were followed in a multicenter, prospective cohort study. We intended to follow all the women for 5 years by means of annual telephone interviews; for women enrolled early in the study, we attempted an additional follow-up telephone interview 8 to 14 years after sterilization. To assess the risk of ectopic pregnancy in these women, we used cumulative life-table probabilities and proportional-hazards analysis.


There were 47 ectopic pregnancies in the 10,685 women; the 10-year cumulative probability of ectopic pregnancy for all methods of tubal sterilization combined was 7.3 per 1000 procedures. The cumulative probability varied substantially according to the method of sterilization and the woman's age at the time of sterilization. Women sterilized by bipolar tubal coagulation before the age of 30 years had a probability of ectopic pregnancy that was 27 times as high as that among women of similar age who underwent postpartum partial salpingectomy (31.9 vs. 1.2 ectopic pregnancies per 1000 procedures). The annual rate of ectopic pregnancy for all methods combined in the 4th through 10th years after sterilization was no lower than that in the first 3 years.


A history of tubal sterilization does not rule out the possibility of ectopic pregnancy, even many years after the procedure.

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