Departmental Papers (Obstetrics and Gynecology)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version


Publication Source

The New England Journal of Medicine









Medical management of early pregnancy loss is an alternative to uterine aspira-tion, but standard medical treatment with misoprostol commonly results in treat-ment failure. We compared the efficacy and safety of pretreatment with mifepris-tone followed by treatment with misoprostol with the efficacy and safety of misoprostol use alone for the management of early pregnancy loss.


We randomly assigned 300 women who had an anembryonic gestation or in whom embryonic or fetal death was confirmed to receive pretreatment with 200 mg of mifepristone, administered orally, followed by 800 µg of misoprostol, adminis-tered vaginally (mifepristone-pretreatment group), or 800 µg of misoprostol alone, administered vaginally (misoprostol-alone group). Participants returned 1 to 4 days after misoprostol use for evaluation, including ultrasound examination, by an in-vestigator who was unaware of the treatment-group assignments. Women in whom the gestational sac was not expelled were offered expectant management, a second dose of misoprostol, or uterine aspiration. We followed all participants for 30 days after randomization. Our primary outcome was gestational sac expulsion with one dose of misoprostol by the first follow-up visit and no additional intervention within 30 days after treatment.


Complete expulsion after one dose of misoprostol occurred in 124 of 148 women (83.8%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 76.8 to 89.3) in the mifepristone-pretreat-ment group and in 100 of 149 women (67.1%; 95% CI, 59.0 to 74.6) in the miso-prostol-alone group (relative risk, 1.25; 95% CI, 1.09 to 1.43). Uterine aspiration was performed less frequently in the mifepristone-pretreatment group than in the misoprostol-alone group (8.8% vs. 23.5%; relative risk, 0.37; 95% CI, 0.21 to 0.68). Bleeding that resulted in blood transfusion occurred in 2.0% of the women in the mifepristone-pretreatment group and in 0.7% of the women in the misoprostol-alone group (P = 0.31); pelvic infection was diagnosed in 1.3% of the women in each group.


Pretreatment with mifepristone followed by treatment with misoprostol resulted in a higher likelihood of successful management of first-trimester pregnancy loss than treatment with misoprostol alone. (Funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; PreFaiR number, NCT02012491.)

Copyright/Permission Statement

From The New England Journal of Medicine, Copyright 2018, Massachusetts Medical Society. Reprinted with permission.



Date Posted: 30 September 2019

This document has been peer reviewed.