Complications of misoprostol and other abortion induction methods in the developing world: A systematic review

Erica Bamgbopa, The University of Texas School of Public Health


OBJECTIVE: To systematically review published literature to examine the complications associated with the use of misoprostol and compare these complications to those associated with other forms of abortion induction. DATA SOURCES: Studies were identified through searches of medical literature databases including Medline (Ovid), PubMed (NLM), LILACS, sciELO, and AIM (AFRO), and review of references of relevant articles. STUDY SELECTION AND METHODS: A descriptive systematic review that included studies reported in English and published before December 2012. Eligibility criteria included: misoprostol (with or without other methods) and any other method of abortion in a developing country, as well as quantitative data on the complication of each method. The following is information extracted from each study: author/year, country/city, study design/study sample, age range, setting of data collection, sample size, the method of abortion induction, the number of cases for each method, and the percentage of complications with each method. RESULTS: A total of 4 studies were identified (all in Latin America) describing post-abortion complications of misoprostol and other methods in countries where abortion is generally considered unsafe and/or illegal. The four studies reported on a range of complications including: bleeding, infection, incomplete abortion, intense pelvic pain, uterine perforation, headache, diarrhea, nausea, mechanical lesions, and systemic collapse. The most prevalent complications of misoprostol-induced abortion reported were: bleeding (7-82%), incomplete abortion (33-70%), and infection (0.8-67%). The prevalence of these complications reported from other abortion methods include: bleeding (16-25%), incomplete abortion (15-82%), and infection (13-50%). CONCLUSION: The literature identified by this systematic review is inadequate for determining the complications of misoprostol used in unsafe settings. Abortion is considered an illicit behavior in these countries, therefore making it difficult to investigate the details needed to conduct a study on abortion complications. Given the differences between the reviewed studies as well as a variety of study limitations, it is not possible to draw firm conclusions about the rates of specific-abortion related complications.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Bamgbopa, Erica, "Complications of misoprostol and other abortion induction methods in the developing world: A systematic review" (2013). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1544291.