Abstract Title:

Medical treatments for incomplete miscarriage (less than 24 weeks).

Abstract Source:

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010(1):CD007223. Epub 2010 Jan 20. PMID: 20091626

Abstract Author(s):

James P Neilson, Gillian Ml Gyte, Martha Hickey, Juan C Vazquez, Lixia Dou

Article Affiliation:

School of Reproductive and Developmental Medicine, Division of Perinatal and Reproductive Medicine, The University of Liverpool, First Floor, Liverpool Women's NHS Foundation Trust, Crown Street, Liverpool, UK, L8 7SS.


BACKGROUND: Miscarriage occurs in 10% to 15% of pregnancies. The traditional treatment, after miscarriage, has been to perform surgery to remove any remaining pregnancy tissues in the uterus. However, it has been suggested that drug-based medical treatments, or expectant care (no treatment), may also be effective, safe and acceptable.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the effectiveness, safety and acceptability of any medical treatment for early incomplete miscarriage (before 24 weeks).

SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (September 2009).

SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised controlled trials comparing medical treatment with expectant care or surgery. Quasi-randomised trials were excluded.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two authors independently assessed the studies for inclusion, assessed risk of bias and carried out data extraction. Data entry was checked.

MAIN RESULTS: Fifteen studies (2750 women) were included, there were no studies on women over 13 weeks' gestation. Studies addressed a number of comparisons and data are therefore limited.Three trials compared misoprostol treatment (all vaginally administered) with expectant care. There was no significant difference in complete miscarriage (average risk ratio (RR) 1.23, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.72 to 2.10; two studies, 150 women), or in the need for surgical evacuation (average RR 0.62, 95% CI 0.17 to 2.26; two studies, 308 women). There were few data on 'deaths or serious complications'.Nine studies involving 1766 women addressed the comparison of misoprostol (four oral, four vaginal, one vaginal + oral) with surgical evacuation. There was no statistically significant difference in complete miscarriage (average RR 0.96, 95% CI 0.92 to 1.00, eight studies, 1377 women) with success rate high for both methods. Overall, there were fewer surgical evacuations with misoprostol (average RR 0.07, 95% CI 0.03 to 0.18; eight studies, 1538 women) but more unplanned procedures (average RR 6.32, 95% CI 2.90 to 13.77; six studies, 1158 women). There were few data on 'deaths or serious complications'. Limited evidence suggests that women generally seem satisfied with their care. Long-term follow up from one included study identified no difference in subsequent fertility between the three approaches.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: The available evidence suggests that medical treatment, with misoprostol, and expectant care are both acceptable alternatives to routine surgical evacuation given the availability of health service resources to support all three approaches. Women experiencing miscarriage at less than 13 weeks should be offered an informed choice.

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