Update on second trimester medical abortion

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Abstract

Purpose of review

To review recent literature on second trimester abortion with medical methods.

Recent findings

Across studies published in the recent past, it is apparent that women prefer shorter procedures and procedure times. Several randomized controlled trials have confirmed adding mifepristone to the second trimester medication abortion regimen results in shorter abortion intervals from first misoprostol administration to complete fetal expulsion. A study of simultaneous administration of mifepristone and misoprostol yielded shorter mean ‘total’ abortion times, presenting several logistical advantages. Recent studies on the continuous dosing of misoprostol have produced critical evidence to support continued dosing until expulsion. These studies had a more practical design compared with previous protocols that capped the number of misoprostol doses.

Summary

Second trimester surgical abortion is well tolerated and increasingly expeditious. Further research is needed to refine second trimester medical abortion methods, specific to the mifepristone, misoprostol dosing interval. A 12-hour mifepristone to misoprostol interval may be the optimal interval balancing patient preferences and logistical considerations. Pragmatic dosing, including continuous dosing of misoprostol, could yield results that better inform clinical guidelines and reduce burden on patient, provider, and health facility.

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