Table of Contents
Septic abortion is a life threatening complication of abortion. Most often there is a history of criminal interference with the pregnancy.
It may lead to complications such as septic shock, uterine damage, peritonitis, haemorrhage, disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), acute renal failure, adult respiratory distress syndrome, tetanus or gas gangrene.
Causes of Septic abortion
Septic abortion is caused by:
- Infected retained products of conception
Symptoms of septic abortion
The symptoms of Septic abortion include the following:
- Severe lower abdominal pain
- Offensive, bloody vaginal discharge
Signs of septic abortion
The following are the signs of septic abortion:
- Fever (but temperature may be normal)
- If in septic shock: low blood pressure
- Bulky tender uterus
- Cervix may be opened or closed
- Retained offensive products of conception
- FBC and sickling test
- Clotting screen
- Blood grouping and cross matching
- Blood culture and sensitivity
- Urine culture and sensitivity
- Endo-cervical swab for culture and sensitivity
- Blood urea and electrolytes
- Chest and abdominal X-ray (to exclude foreign body, gas under the diaphragm suggesting uterine perforation)
- Abdomino-pelvic ultrasonography (for intra-abdominal and pelvic abscesses, presence of products in uterus, fluids and gas in the pelvis)
The treatment objectives of septic abortion include the following:
- To resuscitate patient
- To treat infection
- To evacuate uterus
- To provide post-abortion counselling
- Evacuate the retained products of conception (careful evacuation of the uterus must be done as risk of uterine perforation is high)
- Gentle digital curettage followed by the instrumental curettage under general anaesthesia within 6 hours of initiation of antibiotic therapy
- Examine to confirm if uterus is perforated and determine if surgery is required
- Psychological support and family planning counselling
A. Resuscitation for shock
Evidence Rating: [A]
- IV fluids and blood transfusion as necessary
B. Treatment of Sepsis
Amoxicillin + Clavulanic Acid, IV,
- 1.2 g 8 hourly for 24-72 hours
- 80 mg 8 hourly for 5 days
- 500 mg 8 hourly for 24-72 hours
Culture and sensitivity test results will direct further antibiotic therapy.
IV antibiotic therapy should be continued until the patient is afebrile for at least 24 hours.
Oral therapy should be continued for at least seven days.
If Gentamicin is to be continued, give 80 mg IM or IV 8 hourly for at least 5 days.
C. Evacuate uterus
To abort foetus if still in utero and/or if surgical evacuation of products is not immediately possible.
Oxytocin, IV infusion
(See ‘Inevitable Abortion‘ for details)
Misoprostol, sublingual oral or vaginal,
- 600 microgram stat.
(See ‘Incomplete Abortion‘ for details)
D. Severe Pain management
Evidence Rating: [C]
- 2.5-5 mg 4 hourly as required
- 5-10 mg 8 hourly as required for vomiting
- 50-100 mg 4-6 hourly (Maximum 400 mg in 24 hours)
- 25 mg 8-12 hourly as required (max. 25 mg 6 hourly) to reduce the chances of vomiting and to potentiate the analgesic effect of Pethidine
E. Tetanus Prophylaxis
Tetanol, IM, 0.5 ml stat.
Human Immune Tetanus Globulin, IM,
- 250-500 units stat.