Until recently, if a woman had a miscarriage early in her pregnancy, a surgery was often necessary to remove any remaining fetal tissue. A new drug misoprostol may now be an option after pregnancy loss.
Miscarriage occurs in at least 10 percent of pregnancies, often between seven and 12 weeks of gestation. Symptoms include abdominal or back pain, cramping and vaginal bleeding.
A surgical procedure known as dilation and curettage (D&C) to clear the uterus remains the current standard treatment of cure for miscarriage. The procedure is done under either local or general anesthesia. Vacuum aspiration is another option to empty the uterus.
Misoprostol is one of the medications used in elective medical abortions; the other is mifepristone (RU486). Misoprostol, which was originally developed to prevent ulcers, causes the uterus to contract and is sometimes used to induce labor.
A comparative study conducted on the effectiveness of medical management versus surgical management for early pregnancy failure found the drug to be effective in expelling fetal tissue in 84 percent of the women. The acceptability and complication rates were almost identical.
The loss of pregnancy is often a difficult emotional period for a woman, and they remain the best judges regarding the management of miscarriage. Many women taking into consideration the need for surgical intervention would probably appreciate and welcome this treatment modality.