Intra-uterine contraceptive device

Intra-uterine contraceptive devices (IUCD) are one of the most frequently used methods of contraception throughout the world. It prevents pregnancy by:

  • thinning the endometrial lining
  • preventing sperm motility
  • preventing implantation

There are two main types of IUCDs:

Radiopaque intrauterine structures, most often 'T-shaped' or at times seen as a serpiginous structure.

  • preferred modality for assessing an IUCD
  • properly placed IUCD may be visualised as a straight hyperechoic structure in the endometrial canal of the uterus and the arms of the IUD extending laterally at the uterine fundus
  • often causes posterior acoustic shadowing
  • the distance from the top of the uterine cavity to the IUCD should be <3mm 
  • distance >4 mm is more often associated with symptoms such as bleeding and pain, as well as with a higher risk of expulsion or displacement
  • in cases where it becomes embedded, a part of it may be visualised within the myometrium
  • if it is located too inferiorly, or if it begins to extend through the cervical os, its effectiveness is decreased and may also cause pelvic pain and/or bleeding. It should be repositioned

3D ultrasound may be useful to help visualise the IUCD location (especially with serpiginous IUCDs) 4.

Hyperattenuating structures with metallic density.

The IUCD was first developed by the German physician, Dr. R Richter of Waldenburg.

Ultrasound - gynaecology
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Article information

rID: 4938
Section: Gamuts
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Intra uterine device (IUD)
  • Intrauterine device (IUD)
  • Intrauterine device
  • IUCD
  • Intra uterine contraceptive device
  • Intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD)
  • Intra-uterine contraceptive device (IUCD)
  • IUD

Cases and figures

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     Case 1
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     Case 2
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    Case 3: with migration
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    Case 4: with migration
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    Case 5: peritoneal migration
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    Case 6: the 'Chinese ring' intrauterine contraceptive device
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