The medical value of examining tissue from therapeutic abortions: an analysis of 13,477 cases

Br J Obstet Gynaecol. 1986 Jun;93(6):594-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.1986.tb07960.x.


In 1983 the United States Supreme Court ruled that therapeutic abortion tissue must be examined by a pathologist. A review of 13,477 specimens indicated that 98.7% had routine confirmation of the intrauterine pregnancy. Of the remainder, 60% had a deciduoid appearance, suggestive of but not diagnostic of pregnancy, 39% were not diagnostic of pregnancy, and 1% showed hydatidiform mole. In a subgroup of patients with non-routine reports, 28% had a problem warranting further care for ectopic pregnancy or trophoblastic disease or intrauterine retained placental tissue. It is concluded that a small percentage of patients receive benefit from this additional study because real or potential complications are identified early in the post-abortion period.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Therapeutic*
  • Decidua
  • Embryo, Mammalian / anatomy & histology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydatidiform Mole / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / diagnosis*
  • Pregnancy, Ectopic / diagnosis
  • Reoperation
  • Uterine Neoplasms / diagnosis