Background: Several studies have now reported the successful use of the sublingual administration of misoprostol for medical abortion in the first trimester. The objective of this study was to assess the acceptability to women, the efficacy of the regimen, as well as the acceptability to staff of sublingual versus vaginal administration of misoprostol following mifepristone for medical abortion at 13-20 weeks gestation.
Methods: Women were randomized by opening consecutive sealed envelopes generated using random number tables. Mifepristone (200 mg) was followed 36-48 h later by sublingual administration of misoprostol 600 microg or vaginal misoprostol 800 microg. This was followed by 3 hourly doses of misoprostol 400 microg administered sublingually or vaginally.
Results: A total of 76 women were randomized. Of women in the sublingual group, 24 (66.7%) expressed satisfaction with the route of misoprostol administration compared with 25 (62.5%) in the vaginal group. A higher proportion in the sublingual group used intramuscular opiates. There was no significant difference in the surgical evacuation rate between the sublingual (three out of 36 women, 8.3%) and vaginal groups (one out of 40, 2.5%), (P=0.26) and acceptability to staff was the same for both methods.
Conclusions: Sublingual administration of misoprostol following mifepristone is an acceptable and effective alternative to vaginal administration for medical abortion at 13-20 weeks gestation. However, women should be advised about the greater likelihood of requiring stronger analgesia.