Misoprostol for treatment of incomplete abortion at the regional hospital level: results from Tanzania

BJOG. 2007 Nov;114(11):1363-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2007.01469.x. Epub 2007 Sep 5.


Objective: To investigate the safety, efficacy, and acceptability of misoprostol versus manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) for treatment of incomplete abortion.

Design: A prospective open-label randomised trial.

Setting: Kagera Regional Hospital, Bukoba, Tanzania.

Sample: Three hundred women with a clinical diagnosis of incomplete abortion and a uterine size <12 weeks.

Methods: A total of 150 women were randomised to either a single dose of 600 micrograms of oral misoprostol or MVA. If abortion was clinically complete at 7-day follow up, the woman was released from the study. If it was still incomplete, the woman was offered the choice of an additional 1-week follow up or immediate MVA. Cases still incomplete after a further week were offered MVA.

Main outcome measures: Incidence of successful abortion (success defined as no secondary surgical intervention provided), incidence of adverse effects, patient satisfaction.

Results: Success was very high in both arms (misoprostol: 99%; MVA: 100%; difference not significant). Most adverse effects were higher in the misoprostol arm, although the mean pain score was higher in the MVA arm (3.0 versus 3.5; P < 0.001). More women were very satisfied with misoprostol (75%) than with MVA (55%, P = 0.001), and a higher proportion of women in the misoprostol arm said that they would recommend the treatment to a friend (95% versus 75%, P < 0.001).

Conclusion: Misoprostol is as effective as MVA at treating incomplete abortion at uterine size of <12 weeks. The acceptability of misoprostol appears higher. Given the many practical advantages of misoprostol over MVA in low-resource settings, misoprostol should be more widely available for treatment of incomplete abortion in the developing world.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Abortifacient Agents, Nonsteroidal / administration & dosage*
  • Abortifacient Agents, Nonsteroidal / adverse effects
  • Abortion, Incomplete / drug therapy*
  • Abortion, Induced / methods*
  • Administration, Oral
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Misoprostol / administration & dosage*
  • Misoprostol / adverse effects
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tanzania
  • Vacuum Curettage / methods*


  • Abortifacient Agents, Nonsteroidal
  • Misoprostol