Induction of abortion with mifepristone (RU 486) and oral or vaginal misoprostol

H el-Refaey, D Rajasekar, M Abdalla, L Calder, A Templeton
New England Journal of Medicine 1995 April 13, 332 (15): 983-7

BACKGROUND: Medical termination of pregnancy can be successfully performed with a combination of mifepristone (RU 486) and a prostaglandin analogue. We conducted a prospective, randomized trial to compare oral with vaginal administration of the prostaglandin E1 analogue misoprostol for first-trimester abortion in women treated initially with mifepristone.

METHODS: The study population consisted of 270 women seeking abortion within 63 days after the onset of amenorrhea. The dose of mifepristone was 600 mg, and the dose of misoprostol was 800 micrograms. The study had two primary end points: expulsion of the conceptus without the need for a surgical procedure, and abortion within four hours after the administration of misoprostol.

RESULTS: Expulsion of the conceptus without the need for a surgical procedure occurred in 95 percent of the women who received misoprostol vaginally and in 87 percent of those who received it orally (P = 0.03). The rate of continued pregnancy was 7 percent with the oral regimen and 1 percent with the vaginal regimen (P = 0.01). Ninety-three percent of the women receiving misoprostol vaginally had abortions within four hours, as compared with only 78 percent of the women receiving the drug orally (P < 0.001). Vomiting and diarrhea were reported more frequently by the women who received oral misoprostol than by those who received vaginal misoprostol (P = 0.04 and P = 0.002, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS: After the administration of mifepristone, vaginal administration of misoprostol is more effective and better tolerated than oral administration for the induction of first-trimester abortion.

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