A comparison of medical abortion (using mifepristone and gemeprost) with surgical vacuum aspiration: efficacy and early medical sequelae

R C Henshaw, S A Naji, I T Russell, A A Templeton
Human Reproduction 1994, 9 (11): 2167-72
A total of 363 women undergoing legal abortion at < 63 days of amenorrhoea were allocated by a patient-centered, partially randomized study design to undergo medical abortion (using mifepristone 600 mg followed 48 h later by gemeprost 1 mg vaginal pessary) or vacuum aspiration (performed under general anaesthesia). The aim of the study was to compare the efficacy and complications of the two procedures. Main outcome measures included efficacy rates, medical complications within 21 days of abortion and unplanned family doctor consultation rates within 8 weeks following abortion. Sequelae such as pain, vaginal bleeding and recovery time were assessed by the change in haemoglobin level, the time taken to return to work or normal activity and the analgesic use. Results were gestation-related; at 50 days of amenorrhoea there was little to choose between the two procedures. At 50-63 days of amenorrhoea medical abortion becomes more painful and less effective, whereas vacuum aspiration retains high tolerance and efficacy. Women who are unsure which method to use are likely to find vacuum aspiration more acceptable at longer gestations.

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