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Efficacy of misoprostol for the treatment of postpartum hemorrhage: current knowledge and implications for health care planning

Authors Prata N, Weidert K

Received 19 December 2015

Accepted for publication 10 June 2016

Published 29 July 2016 Volume 2016:8 Pages 341—349


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Elie Al-Chaer

Ndola Prata, Karen Weidert

Bixby Center for Population, Health and Sustainability, School of Public Health, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA

Background: A myriad of interventions exist to treat postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), ranging from uterotonics and hemostatics to surgical and aortic compression devices. Nonetheless, PPH remains the leading cause of maternal mortality worldwide. The purpose of this article is to review the available evidence on the efficacy of misoprostol for the treatment of primary PPH and discuss implications for health care planning.
Data and methods: Using PubMed, Web of Science, and GoogleScholar, we reviewed the literature on randomized controlled trials of interventions to treat PPH with misoprostol and non-randomized field trials with controls. We discuss the current knowledge and implications for health care planning, especially in resource-poor settings.
Results: The treatment of PPH with 800 µg of misoprostol is equivalent to 40 IU of intravenous oxytocin in women who have received oxytocin for the prevention of PPH. The same dose might be an option for the treatment of PPH in women who did not receive oxytocin for the prevention of PPH and do not have access to oxytocin for treatment. Adding misoprostol to standard uterotonics has no additional benefits to women being treated for PPH, but the beneficial adjunctive role of misoprostol to conventional uterotonics is important in reducing intra- and postoperative hemorrhage during cesarean section.
Misoprostol is an effective uterotonic agent in the treatment of PPH. Clinical guidelines and treatment protocols should be updated to reflect the current knowledge on the efficacy of misoprostol for the treatment of PPH with 800 µg sublingually.

Keywords: PPH treatment, uterotonics, low-resource settings, cesarean section, retained placenta

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