Risk of complication during surgical abortion in obese women

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Surgical abortion is a generally safe procedure. Obesity is a known risk factor for complications in other surgical procedures, but insufficient information exists to determine the effects of increasing body mass index on the risk of surgical abortions.


The purpose of this study was to determine whether obesity is a risk factor for major complications in surgical abortions.


A quality control database from a single outpatient center was analyzed to determine rates of major complications during surgical abortions in relation to obesity class. Complications included hemorrhage, need for repeat evacuation, uterine perforation, cervical laceration, medication reaction, unexpected surgery, or unplanned admission to the hospital. Chi-squared and analysis of variance were used for analysis.


We included 2468 procedures: 1475 procedures (59.8%) in the first trimester and 993 procedures (40.2%) in the second trimester. The overall complications rate was 2.2%. Second-trimester procedures were more likely than those in the first trimester to have complications (3.1% vs 1.6%; P=.009). Overall, 39.6% of the women were obese, and 9.6% of them met criteria for class 3 obesity (body mass index, >40 kg/m2). Women who underwent second-trimester abortions with class 3 obesity had a rate of complication of 8.7%, which was significantly more than normal weight women (odds ratio, 5.90; 95% confidence interval, 1.93–8.07; P<.001).


Surgical abortions are overall safe procedures, but class 3 obesity increases the rate of complication in second-trimester procedures.

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