The options for managing miscarriage are outlined in Figure
12.1. If miscarriage is threatened, you will usually be advised to rest for
a few days and a repeat scan will confirm whether the pregnancy is continuing.
There have been several important developments in the management of miscarriage
in recent years. The combination of highly sensitive pregnancy tests and
ultrasound will usually assist in providing an accurate diagnosis. Many
hospitals now have an early pregnancy assessment unit that specialise in these
problems. This should allow you to see an expert in a dedicated area where you
can receive sympathetic assistance away from busy, and often fraught, accident
and emergency departments.
At one time, we believed that if you miscarried between seven and thirteen
weeks, there were likely to be retained products of pregnancy and an ERPC
(evacuation of retained products of conception) was indicated to reduced the
risk of infection and bleeding. In the days before legal termination of
pregnancy (Chapter 19)
infection with induced abortion was relatively common. These septic abortions
could be life threatening. Current opinion is that the risk of infection and
bleeding has been overstated and a conservative approach now seems safe. From
your point of view, this means that you may not need an operation which, as
always, carries an element of risk (surgery
risks) and furthermore delays waiting for an operation slot are avoided. A
repeat scan about ten days after the diagnosis of incomplete abortion will
usually confirm that nature has solved the problem for you and the womb has
completely emptied itself.
If a miscarriage is incomplete, oral misoprostol 600 micrograms may be as safe
as surgical evacuation.
If you are Rhesus negative you should be offered an injection of Anti-D to
reduce the chance of rhesus problems in a future pregnancy. Guidelines for the
administration of Anti-D are currently under review.
The emotional aspects of miscarriage can be difficult to deal with
particularly if you have had difficulty conceiving or if this is not your first
miscarriage. There is inevitably a time of grieving. A trained counsellor with a
special interest in miscarriage can provide support and help you come to terms
with your loss.
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This is the personal website of David A Viniker MD FRCOG, retired Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist - Specialist Interests - Reproductive Medicine including Infertility, PCOS, PMS, Menopause and HRT.
I do hope that you find the answers to your women's health questions in the patient information and medical advice provided.
The aim of this web site is to provide a general
guide and it is not intended as a substitute for a consultation
with an appropriate specialist in respect of individual care and
David Viniker retired from active clinical practice in 2012.