But misoprostol found side effects, he found.
Misoprostol reduces the major complications of early surgical abortion by about a third, according to a new study.
Doctors often use misoprostol to prepare the cervix before surgical abortion (vacuum suction). However, to date, there have been no studies large enough to determine whether the drug reduces the risk of serious complications, either immediate or delayed, according to the reference information in the March 8 online study in The Lancet.
For the study, researchers from the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva compared the rates of complications among approximately 5,000 women in nine countries who underwent a surgical abortion before 12 weeks of gestation. Complications include cervical rupture, uterine perforation, incomplete abortion and pelvic inflammatory disease.
Women were randomized to receive inactive vaginal or “placebo” misoprostol three hours before the procedure.
The researchers found that women in the misoprostol group were nearly one third less likely to have more or more complications than women who received placebo, and the risk of incomplete abortion was almost three times higher among women in the placebo group . .
However, women in the misoprostol group were more likely to have abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding and nausea in the three hours before surgery.
“Misoprostol has reduced the incidence of complications in general, especially incomplete abortions, unscheduled visits to clinics and hospital admissions after abortion,” author Eduardo Bergel and colleagues concluded in a press release. “Providers should be aware of the side effects of the medication and inform women about these effects.”
In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Alan Templeton, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, wrote: “The important problem in progress is … the balance between the effectiveness of the procedure and the side effects of misoprostol, which will include abdominal cramps and vaginal bleeding in most women, as necessary for medical intervention before surgery. “
“The results of this study suggest that” the routine medical extension of the cervix should be recommended as an integral part of surgical abortion in all women, “Templeton said.