Curettage after mifepristone-induced abortion: frequency, timing, and indications

Obstet Gynecol. 2001 Jul;98(1):101-6. doi: 10.1016/s0029-7844(01)01375-8.


Objective: To characterize women who underwent curettage after medical abortion with mifepristone and vaginal misoprostol, to describe when curettage occurred and the reasons for the intervention, and to categorize the indications for curettage according to a simple classification schema.

Methods: These analyses used data from two multisite, randomized controlled trials sponsored by Abortion Rights Mobilization. In the first study, women pregnant less than 63 days received 200 mg of mifepristone and 800 microg of vaginal misoprostol to use 48 hours after taking mifepristone. In the second study, women pregnant less than 56 days were randomly assigned to insert vaginal misoprostol at 1, 2, or 3 days after mifepristone administration. Case report forms and clinical case notes of all women who underwent curettage were examined.

Results: Of the 4393 women enrolled in both studies, 116 (2.6%, 95% confidence interval 2.1%, 3.1%) curettages were identified. The gestational age and a history of prior elective abortion were associated with the rate of curettage. The distribution of indications for curettage included bleeding, 61 (53%); continuing pregnancy, 17 (15%); patient request, 36 (31%); and indeterminate, 2 (1.7%). The timing of curettage differed by the indication and scheduled interval between study visits. The distribution of the timing was bimodal. One subset of women, 44 (38%), underwent curettage in the first study week and another subset, 43 (37%), during weeks 3-5.

Conclusion: Curettage after medical abortion with mifepristone and vaginal misoprostol is rare. At least one half of the curettages were performed for persistent bleeding several weeks after treatment. Both acute heavy bleeding and continuing pregnancy are extremely rare.

MeSH terms

  • Abortifacient Agents, Nonsteroidal*
  • Abortifacient Agents, Steroidal*
  • Abortion, Induced*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Curettage / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mifepristone*
  • Misoprostol*
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Pregnancy
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Time Factors


  • Abortifacient Agents, Nonsteroidal
  • Abortifacient Agents, Steroidal
  • Misoprostol
  • Mifepristone