Intracardiac injection of potassium chloride as method for feticide: experience from a single UK tertiary centre

BJOG. 2008 Mar;115(4):528-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2007.01639.x.


We report our experience with intracardiac administration of potassium chloride as safe and effective method for late termination of pregnancy (TOP) and to document the indications for feticide in a major tertiary unit. During the study period (January 2000 and December 2005), 239 late terminations of pregnancy were performed at a median gestational age of 22(+6) weeks (range 20(+6) to 36(+3) weeks). The most frequent indication was represented by aneuploidy (24.3%), followed by brain abnormalities (17.6%). Maternal indications were responsible for 2.9% of the total number of terminations. No maternal complications occurred and complete asystole was achieved in all cases with a median volume of potassium chloride of 4.7 ml (range 2-10 ml). Potassium chloride injected directly in the left ventricle induces immediate asystole, and it is a safe and effective method of TOP. Interestingly, despite the widespread introduction of aneuploidy screening, chromosomal abnormalities, particularly trisomy 21, still represent the major indication for late TOP.

MeSH terms

  • Abortifacient Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Abortion, Induced / methods*
  • Aneuploidy
  • Congenital Abnormalities
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Injections
  • Potassium Chloride / administration & dosage*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third


  • Abortifacient Agents
  • Potassium Chloride