Hemorrhage after abortion is rare, occurring in fewer than 1% of abortions, but associated morbidity may be significant. Hemorrhage can be caused by atony, coagulopathy and abnormal placentation, as well as by such procedure complications as perforation, cervical laceration and retained tissue. Evidence on which to make recommendations regarding risk factors and treatment for postabortion hemorrhage is extremely limited. Although medical abortion is associated with more bleeding than surgical abortion, overall bleeding for the two methods is minimal and not clinically different. Identifying patients who may be at increased risk of hemorrhage can help reduce blood loss with abortion. Specifically, women with a uterine scar and complete placenta previa seeking abortion at gestations greater than 16 weeks should be evaluated for placenta accreta. For women at high risk of hemorrhage, referral to a high-acuity center should be considered. We propose an algorithm for treating postabortion hemorrhage as follows: (1) assessment and exam, (2) massage and medical therapy, (3) resuscitative measures with laboratory evaluation and possible re-aspiration or balloon tamponade, and (4) interventions such as embolization and surgery. The Society of Family Planning recommends preoperative identification of women at high risk of hemorrhage as well as development of an organized approach to treatment. Further studies are needed on prophylactic use of uterotonic medication, intraoperative ultrasound and optimal delivery of the placenta after second-trimester medical abortion.
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