Early pregnancy failure - Current management concepts

Mitchell D Creinin, Jill L. Schwartz, Richard S. Guido, Helen C. Pymar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Approximately one in four women will experience a miscarriage during her lifetime. For more than 50 years, the standard management of early pregnancy failure has been a dilatation and curettage (D & C). Typically, the procedure is performed in an operating room, which significantly increases cost. There is little objective information in the modern literature to prove that a D & C for all patients will lower morbidity or improve emotional well being. Treatment options include expectant management, D & C in an outpatient setting, and medical management with misoprostol (not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of early pregnancy failure). The medical literature supports that expectant management may result in more complications, including the need for "emergent" curettage, if clinicians do not understand the true normal course of expectant management. In general, women prefer some form of active management. Dilatation and curettage can be performed safely in the office or other outpatient setting using manual vacuum aspiration. Vaginal misoprostol will cause expulsion in 80% to 90% of women up to 13 weeks' uterine size or gestation, including patients who have a gestational sac present. However, these data come from only three trials involving a total of 42 subjects treated with vaginal misoprostol, and another study of 42 women who received vaginal misoprostol for "missed abortion" before a scheduled D & C. There is a significant lack of information from large-scale studies about when treatment is necessary and the relative efficacy, rates of side effects, and acceptability of these various treatment options for early pregnancy failure. Target Audience: Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Family Physicians Learning Objectives: After completion of this article, the reader will be able to summarize the current literature on the management of early pregnancy failures, describe the various management options for patients with early pregnancy failures, and contrast the efficacy and complications of each management option.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-113
Number of pages9
JournalObstetrical and Gynecological Survey
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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