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Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2001 Dec;75(3):235-41.

Misoprostol versus oxytocin in the third stage of labor.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Zimbabwe, PO Box A178, Avondale, Harare, Zimbabwe.



A double blind randomized controlled trial was performed at the tertiary hospital in Harare, Zimbabwe to compare oral misoprostol with intramuscular oxytocin in the management of third stage of labor.


A total of 499 women were randomized to receive either 400 microg misoprostol orally or 10 IU oxytocin intramuscularly. The incidences of postpartum hemorrhage and side effects were examined.


The demographic and labor characteristics were comparable. Postpartum hemorrhage occurred in 15.2% of women given misoprostol and in 13.3% of those given oxytocin (P=0.534). Measured blood loss of more than 1000 ml occurred in 3.7% of the misoprostol group compared with 2% in the oxytocin group (P=0.237). There was no significant difference in the need for additional oxytocic drugs or blood transfusion in women given misoprostol (P values 0.137 and 0.600, respectively). Significant side effects of misoprostol were shivering [RR=1.32 (95% CI 1.11-1.58); P=0.002) and a rise in temperature [RR=2.02 (95% CI 1.75-2.33); P<0.001].


Oral misoprostol is as effective as intramuscular oxytocin in the prevention of PPH. Shivering and transient pyrexia were specific side effects of misoprostol. Misoprostol has potential in reducing the high incidence of PPH in developing countries.

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