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Contraception. 2004 Nov;70(5):393-9.

Medical versus surgical abortion efficacy, complications and leave of absence compared in a partly randomized study.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, H:S Hvidovre Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Hvidovre 2650, Denmark.


To provide optimal information to women choosing between early medical and surgical abortion, rigorous comparisons of the two methods are warranted. We compared the outcome of 1135 consecutive women with gestational age (GA) < or = 63 days receiving either a medical (600 mg mifepristone and 1 mg gemeprost) or a surgical abortion (vacuum aspiration in general anesthesia). One hundred eleven of these women were randomized for abortion method. Surgical interventions and complications leading to readmission within the following 15 weeks were identified through a computer system. Information about antibiotic treatment, leave of absence and number of contacts to the health care system were obtained from mailed questionnaires. The number of complications was identical after the two methods, but surgical abortion was associated with a higher success rate [97.7% (708/725) vs. 94.1% (386/410), p < .01] and also with a higher risk of antibiotic treatment than medical abortion [7.8% (37/467) vs. 3.7% (13/356), p < .05]. The median leave of absence was shorter in women choosing a medical (1 day) than a surgical termination (2 days), p < .05. On average, one third of all the women requested at least one extra unscheduled consultation apart from a routine follow-up visit. We conclude that the chance of a primary successful termination at GA < or = 63 days is higher after a surgical abortion in general anesthesia compared to a medical abortion induced with 600 mg mifepristone and 1 mg gemeprost. A surgical abortion is associated with an increased risk of antibiotic treatment compared to medical abortion. The women's need for follow-up might be higher than we expect.

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