Sterilisation can be done on men or on women. In men, the procedure is called a vasectomy and in women the procedure is called a tubal ligation. The tubal ligation can be done just after a woman has given birth by caesarean section or naturally. A vasectomy can be done at any time. There are a lot of psychological, social, cultural and religious issues surrounding the use of these procedures. Still, they are good methods of permanent birth control for those people in a stable relationship who have had the number of children they want to have. Failure of sterilisation techniques can lead to unwanted consequences which may give rise to a solicitors medical negligence compensation claim.

When a man or woman no longer wishes to procreate and they are certain the decision is permanent, they may wish to have a permanent form of sterilisation. In men, this is a vasectomy and in women, the procedure is called a tubal ligation. The tubal ligation is more complex than a vasectomy and usually requires general anaesthesia. On the other hand, the vasectomy can be done under local anaesthesia and takes less time to perform than a tubal ligation. If you think that conception has occured as a result of medical negligence, contact our failed sterilisation solicitors for advice at no cost.

    Failed Female Sterilisation

    The tubal ligation involves using laparoscopy or an open pelvic procedure. The fallopian tubes are isolated from the rest of the pelvic tissue and clamps are placed to keep the tube isolated. The tube is then cut, with a section cut out to be evaluated under pathology. The cut ends are sometimes burned or cauterized and they are tied off. The second tube is then done in an identical fashion. A tubal ligation is successful on a permanent basis in excess of 99 percent of the time.

    Unfortunately, tubal ligations sometimes fail. They fail because the surgeon mistakes a portion of the uterine membrane as a piece of the tube and doesn't cut out the tube at all. This is a rare occurrence and is made easier if the piece of tube is looked at under the microscope to make sure that fallopian tube has in fact been cut. In even rarer circumstances, the tube can connect itself back up again. This can happen over a many month period of time and is made a lesser complication if a section of tube is cut out rather than just bisecting the tube. If the tube reconnects, a pregnancy can come up as a secondary complication.

    If you sustain a pregnancy after tubal ligation, you need to have your solicitor or yourself examine the medical record. Make sure that a section of tube was evaluated under the microscope. This should be the gold standard of tubal ligations and, if done correctly, can tell the difference between a tube that has simply reconnected and one that never was disconnected in the first place.

    Failed Male Sterilisation

    The vasectomy has a higher success rate than the tubal ligation and the failure of sterilization is in the range of one out of every thousand. The vasectomy is done using local anaesthesia which numbs an area of skin in the groin area. The vas deferens is isolated out from the blood vessels and nerve in the same bundle in the groin, leading between the pelvic structures and the testicle. When the vas deferens is isolated out, it is bisected and a section of the tube is isolated out and removed for pathological examination. This makes sure that vas deferens is removed and not some connective tissue, blood vessel or nerve. The vas deferens is tied off at each end and is sometimes cauterized. The bundle of tissue is then replaced into the groin and sutures are placed to close the incision, which is less than an inch long. The process is repeated at the other side of the groin so that both vas deferentia are bisected.

    As mentioned, failure of vasectomy is rare, especially when a section of the vas deferens is looked at under the microscope to make sure the right tissue was taken. Technically, the vas deferens can reconnect on its own but it does so at a lesser rate than the fallopian tubes. In most cases of vasectomy, the patient is asked to give samples of semen for up to six months after the procedure. When the semen shows no motile sperm, the vasectomy is considered a success and a man can be certain he can't get a woman pregnant again.

Sterilisation Overview

The popularity of the tubal ligation is somewhat declining. It has fallen by a third in the last twenty years. Vasectomy rates have remained unchanged over the years. Worldwide, the sterilisation techniques described above are the most common forms of contraception used, with more than 190 million tubal ligations and 33 million vasectomies.

Tubal ligation and vasectomies are permanent procedures that work most of the time. Occasionally, a woman can still become pregnant after a tubal ligation, even when the tubes have been removed properly. Fallopian tubes have a way of healing themselves back together so they can become functional again. Even if the Fallopian tubes are banded, cut, burned, clipped or tied, it is only about 99 percent effective. Young women who have a tubal ligation have a higher failure rate than older women.

Even so, the procedure should be considered permanent. While there can be tubal ligation reversals, they are not perfect and you may not regain fertility after having the tubal ligation reversed. There is a higher rate of tubal pregnancies as well as a failure to get pregnant.

In men, the failure rate is about 0.01-0.2 percent. This is a lower failure rate than in tubal ligations. Some vasectomies fail because the man has had sex too soon after the procedure and still has active sperm in the system. Men need to have a semen sample delivered to the doctor about six months after the vasectomy to make sure that the sperm have all disappeared. The vas deference has less of a chance of growing together; nevertheless, it can happen in rare cases. More commonly, the failure is due to a failure of the surgery in the first place, which can happen if the doctor is not experienced in doing vasectomies.

In a tubal ligation, the two Fallopian tubes on either side of the uterus are isolated in a laparoscopic or open surgical procedure. The tubes are cut, tied or clipped, and sometimes burned at the ends. Often a piece of the Fallopian tube is removed and looked at under the microscope to prove that the tube has, in fact, been taken care of. Without the section of tube, doctors can’t be positive that the tube has been attended to properly. This can lead to failure of the tubal ligation.

The same thing is done with the vas deferens in males. A section of the vas deferens is taken and looked at under the microscope to prove it was actually divided successfully.

Tubal ligations can be done just after a woman has given birth. The uterus is large and can easily be reached via an infraumbilical incision. The tubes are isolated and divided. In addition, a woman who has had a cesarean section can have an open tubal ligation done at the same time she delivers her infant in the same surgical opening. A woman can also have a tubal ligation via a laparoscope in an infraumbilical incision. A vaginal incision can also be used. This can be done regardless of whether or not the woman has recently been pregnant or not.

Sometimes a failure of sterilisation is due to medical negligence, when the doctor has failed to take portions of the Fallopian tube or has failed to divide it properly. Other times, the tubal ligation or vasectomy was done perfectly but the body has reconnected the cut ends and a pregnancy ensues.

Medical Negligence Solicitors

Our Sterilisation Failure solicitors operate the no win no fee scheme which is totally without risk. You only pay legal charges if the case is won. There are no upfront charges to pay whatsoever. If you would like to discuss your potential compensation claim with a specialist medical negligence solicitor just complete the contact form or email our solicitors offices or use the helpline. Once you have provided sufficient information you will speak with a Sterilisation Failure solicitor who will advise you on the prospects of success for your claim and an estimated amount of compensation that may be awarded. Our advice is totally without cost and there is no further obligation to use our legal services. Do yourself justice and give us a call.

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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here