Surgical procedures to evacuate incomplete miscarriage

Vacuum aspiration is a safe and quick treatment for incomplete miscarriages.

Bleeding and infection generally result if the uterus is not emptied after incomplete miscarriage (where parts of the products of conception are left in the uterus). The review of two trials, involving 550 women, found that vacuum aspiration (a procedure that empties the uterus by using a vacuum source with or without electricity) was safe, quick and easy to perform. It was also less painful than dilatation and curettage, which is often done under general anesthesia in an operating room.

Authors' conclusions: 

Although the review indicates that vacuum aspiration is safe, quick to perform, and less painful than sharp curettage, and should be recommended for use in the management of incomplete miscarriage, the results are based on data from only one study. Analgesia and sedation should be provided as necessary for the procedure.

Read the full abstract...

Incomplete miscarriage is a major problem that should be effectively managed with safe and appropriate procedures. Surgical evacuation of the uterus for management of incomplete miscarriage usually involves vacuum aspiration or sharp curettage.


To compare the safety and effectiveness of surgical uterine evacuation methods for management of incomplete miscarriage.

Search strategy: 

We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (July 2010).

Selection criteria: 

Randomized trials where different surgical methods were used to manage incomplete miscarriage were eligible for inclusion.

Data collection and analysis: 

We extracted population characteristics, settings, and exclusion criteria, in addition to outcomes such as complications of the procedure, duration, need for re-evacuation, blood transfusion, and analgesia/anesthesia.

Main results: 

Two trials (involving 550 women) were included. Vacuum aspiration was associated with statistically significantly decreased blood loss (mean difference (MD) -17.10 ml, 95% confidence interval (CI) -24.05 to -10.15 ml), less pain during the procedure (risk ratio (RR) 0.74, 95% CI 0.61 to 0.90), and shorter duration of the procedure (MD -1.20 minutes, 95% CI -1.53 to -0.87 minutes), than sharp metal curettage, in the single study that evaluated these outcomes in 357 women. Serious complications such as uterine perforation and other morbidity were rare and the sample sizes of the trials were not large enough to evaluate small or moderate differences.