OBJECTIVES--To determine whether women with silicone breast prostheses have more rheumatic complaints than controls. METHODS--The study included 287 women who had silicone breast prostheses implanted between 1978-90. For every patient a female control of the same age was selected who had had an aesthetic operation in the same year. A questionnaire was sent to this retrospective cohort of women with silicone breast prostheses and controls. RESULTS--Questionnaires were returned by 235 cases (82%) and 210 controls (73%). Patients reported more symptoms arising after surgery than controls (0.6 v 0.3 complaints per subject, p < 0.001). The average interval between surgery and onset of complaints was 5.1 years for patients and 5.9 for controls. Complaints presented by patients were: painful joints (p < 0.005), burning eyes (p < 0.01), and skin abnormalities (p < 0.005). Differences in the use of antirheumatic drugs or medical consultations related to rheumatic symptoms did not reach statistical significance. Further information obtained from the patients and controls reporting rheumatic symptoms did not reveal the presence of a specific syndrome in connection with silicone materials. CONCLUSION--Women with silicone breast prostheses report more rheumatic complaints after silicone implantation than controls, but there is no evidence of increased prevalence of common rheumatic diseases.
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