JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Treatment for primary postpartum haemorrhage

Hatem A Mousa, Jennifer Blum, Ghada Abou El Senoun, Haleema Shakur, Zarko Alfirevic
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014 February 13, (2): CD003249
24523225

BACKGROUND: Primary postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) is one of the top five causes of maternal mortality in both developed and developing countries.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the effectiveness and safety of any intervention used for the treatment of primary PPH.

SEARCH METHODS: We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (31 August 2013).

SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised controlled trials comparing any interventions for the treatment of primary PPH.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: We assessed studies for eligibility and quality and extracted data independently. We contacted authors of the included studies to request more information.

MAIN RESULTS: Ten randomised clinical trials (RCTs) with a total of 4052 participants fulfilled our inclusion criteria and were included in this review.Four RCTs (1881 participants) compared misoprostol with placebo given in addition to conventional uterotonics. Adjunctive use of misoprostol (in the dose of 600 to 1000 mcg) with simultaneous administration of additional uterotonics did not provide additional benefit for our primary outcomes including maternal mortality (risk ratio (RR) 6.16, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.75 to 50.85), serious maternal morbidity (RR 0.34, 95% CI 0.01 to 8.31), admission to intensive care (RR 0.79, 95% CI 0.30 to 2.11) or hysterectomy (RR 0.93, 95% CI 0.16 to 5.41).  Two RCTs (1787 participants) compared 800 mcg sublingual misoprostol versus oxytocin infusion as primary PPH treatment; one trial included women who had received prophylactic uterotonics, and the other did not. Primary outcomes did not differ between the two groups, although women given sublingual misoprostol were more likely to have additional blood loss of at least 1000 mL (RR 2.65, 95% CI 1.04 to 6.75). Misoprostol was associated with a significant increase in vomiting and shivering.Two trials attempted to test the effectiveness of estrogen and tranexamic acid, respectively, but were too small for any meaningful comparisons of pre-specified outcomes.One study compared lower segment compression but was too small to assess impact on primary outcomes.We did not identify any trials evaluating surgical techniques or radiological interventions for women with primary PPH unresponsive to uterotonics and/or haemostatics.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Clinical trials included in the current review were not adequately powered to assess impact on the primary outcome measures. Compared with misoprostol, oxytocin infusion is more effective and causes fewer side effects when used as first-line therapy for the treatment of primary PPH. When used after prophylactic uterotonics, misoprostol and oxytocin infusion worked similarly. The review suggests that among women who received oxytocin for the treatment of primary PPH, adjunctive use of misoprostol confers no added benefit.The role of tranexamic acid and compression methods requires further evaluation. Furthermore, future studies should focus on the best way to treat women who fail to respond to uterotonic therapy.

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