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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 134-137  

Prevention of post-partum hemorrhage by rectal Misoprostol: A randomized clinical trial

1 Department of Nursing and Midwifery, Islamic Azad University, Babol, Iran
2 Department of Basic Science, Babol Branch, Islamic Azad University, Babol, Iran
3 Department of Nursing and Midwifery, Babol Medical Sciences University, Babol, Iran

Date of Web Publication20-Feb-2013

Correspondence Address:
Shabnam Omidvar
Department of Nursing and midwifery, Babol Medical Sciences University, Babol
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0976-9668.107277

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Background: Post-partum hemorrhage (PPH) is a common cause of maternal mortality in developing countries. This trial was conducted to study the effectiveness and safety of rectal misoprostol for PPH. Aim: To assess the effectiveness and safety of misoprostol and comparing with oxytocin for prevention of PPH. Materials and Methods : Women were randomized to receive either two 200 μg rectal misoprostol tablets (study group) or 20 units oxytocin in 1000 cc normal saline intravenously (control group). The outcomes were incidence of PPH, amount of blood loss, duration of labor, incidence of side effects, pre- and post-delivery hemoglobin, and use of additional uterotonics. Finding: The incidence of PPH was 12% in the study group and 10% in the control group ( P > 0.05). No significant difference was observed between the groups hematocrit ( P > 0.05). Other variables including severe PPH and duration of the third stage of labor were similar in both groups. Conclusion: Rectal misoprostol was as effective as intravenous oxytocin for preventing post-partum hemorrhage with the same incidence of side effects and is recommended to be use as an uterotonic agent to manage third stage of labor routinely.

Keywords: Active management, misoprostol, oxytocin, post-partum hemorrhage, third stage

How to cite this article:
Firouzbakht M, Kiapour A, Omidvar S. Prevention of post-partum hemorrhage by rectal Misoprostol: A randomized clinical trial. J Nat Sc Biol Med 2013;4:134-7

How to cite this URL:
Firouzbakht M, Kiapour A, Omidvar S. Prevention of post-partum hemorrhage by rectal Misoprostol: A randomized clinical trial. J Nat Sc Biol Med [serial online] 2013 [cited 2021 Jan 28];4:134-7. Available from:

   Introduction Top

A major cause of maternal mortality is post-partum hemorrhage (PPH). The incidence of PPH has been reported from <5% to >10%. These figures remain at least 100 times higher than those in developed countries. [1]

The World Health Organization estimates that 20 million morbidities are consequences of PPH every year, (accounting for one-third of maternal deaths). [2] The causes of death are multi-factorial, and prevention requires a multi-disciplinary response. [3]

The primary cause of PPH is uterine atony. The third stage of labor is potentially the most dangerous for the mother, and active management is necessary. Active management of the third stage of labor is composed of immediate administration of an uterotonic, controlled cord traction for placental delivery, and uterine massage. This procedure is internationally recognized as an evidence-based intervention that reduces PPH caused by uterine atony up to 60%. [2] Conventional oxytocic agents used include oxytocin, the ergot alkaloids ergonovine (ergometrine) and methylergonovine (methylergometrine), syntometrine (which consists of 5 IU oxytocin [Syntocinon] and 0.5 mg ergometrine), and prostaglandins such as carboprost. [4],[5],[6],[7] Moreover, oxytocins is an injectable uterotonic, that is unstable at high temperature, and requires cold storage and skills that birth attendants, who do not practice active management of the third stage of labor, might not possess. [2],[4],[8] Several side effects may occur with the use of these agents including nausea, vomiting, elevated blood pressure, headache, tachycardia, and bronchospasm. [4],[5],[7]

Misoprostol, a prostaglandin E 1 analogue, is used orally to prevent or as treatment of gastric/duodenal ulcers caused by using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents. Misoprostol has also been investigated for preventing PPH, using either the oral or rectal route of administration. [4],[5] Misoprostol produces less serious side effects, and gastrointestinal disturbances are less frequent. The oral route has been associated with dose-related shivering and pyrexia (temperature >38°C). Some experts believe that the rectal route may be advantageous because it may lessen the gastrointestinal side effects. Thus, misoprostol can be administered rectally to patients who are vomiting or unable to take oral medications, those who are under general anesthesia, or those with heavy vaginal bleeding. [6],[8],[9],[10]

A study from Ghana, comparing the effects of rectal misoprostol with intramuscular oxytocin for routine management of the third stage of labor, it was confirmed that administrating of 400 μg rectal misoprostol is as effective as 10 IU intramuscular oxytocin to minimize blood loss during the third stage of labor. Rectal misoprostol has a lower incidence of side effects than the equivalent oral dose. The study confirmed the utility of misoprostol as a safe and effective uterotonic for use in rural and remote areas of developing nations where other pharmacologic agents may be less available.

Ayyad and Abu Omar (2004) determined that rectal misoprostol is as effective as intravenous oxytocin for preventing PPH with the same incidence of side effects and recommended its use as a uterotonic agent for routine management of the third stage of labor. [11]

A recent Pakistani study, which was conducted to access effectiveness and safety of rectal misoprostol for treating PPH, demonstrated that misoprostol is an effective treatment for PPH and that is might be an alternative to parenteral prostaglandins. Given that misoprostol is an inexpensive and stable drug, it has considerable potential to reduce maternal mortality from PPH in developing countries. [2] The efficacy of misoprostol for preventing PPH has also been well demonstrated in trials in Iran (2009), Afghanistan (2010), and Ethiopia (2010). [12],[13],[14] A meta-analysis provided consistent evidence to support a recommendation for use of misoprostol to prevent PPH when oxytocin is unavailable. [15]

The aim of this study was to compare the effectiveness and safety of oxytocin and rectal misoprostol for preventing PPH.

   Materials and Methods Top

This study was a randomized clinical trial. The participants were 100 patients who had a singleton, gestational age of 37 weeks or more and spontaneous vaginal delivery at Imam Ali Hospital, Amol, Iran from March 15 to January 30, 2010. Exclusion criteria were patients undergoing cesarean section, patients with hemoglobin <8 gm%, pregnancy-induced hypertension, grand multiparity, coagulation abnormalities, positive history of PPH, or other medical disorders. Patient were randomly divided into 2 groups to receive either two 200 μg rectal misoprostol tablets (study group) or 20 units oxytocin in 1000 cc normal saline intravenously (control group). Baseline maternal characteristics included age and parity. Significant obstetric history was recorded. Blood pressure levels were noted before and after delivery. PPH was defined as blood loss in excess of 500 cc or 10% drop in Hb from admission to the time of mother discharge (12 hours after delivery). Blood loss was estimated in the third stage of labor by placing a plastic pan under the patients at the time of placental separation and the number, and weight of soaked pads at the time of episiotomy repair (volume in cc = weight in grams) were determined. Blood loss was quantified by the weight and number of soaked towels or by changes in Hb concentration or hematocrite value. The primary outcome was to objectively estimate the amount of blood loss. The hemoglobin concentration was recorded before delivery. A second Hb was estimated before discharge (12 hours post-partum). Differences in the Hb values before and after delivery were estimated in each group. Other variables included agents used for augmentation of labor, mode of delivery, and birth weight. Secondary outcomes were the length of labor and the length of the third stage of labor, the need for additional agents to control vaginal bleeding, and the need for a blood transfusion.

The side effects of each medicine such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, shivering, and headache were noted.

Data were analyzed on an intent-to-treat basis by parametric (t- test and chi-sq test) and non-parametric tests (MannWhitney U-test), using SPSS version 15 analytical software, (SPSS, Inc., Chicago, IL, USA). A P < 0.05 was considered as significant.

   Results Top

A total of 100 women were enrolled and randomized to receive either rectal misoprostol (n = 50) or infusion oxytocin (n0 = 50) during the study period. In present study, no significant differences were observed between the groups regarding baseline characteristics [Table 1].
Table 1: Demographic characteristics

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No significant differences were observed between the groups for changes in Hb concentration. ( P = 0.80). No significant differences were observed between the groups for the length of the first, second, and third stages of labor ( P = 0.54, P = 0.59, P = 0.98), respectively. The estimated blood loss during the third stage in the misoprostol group decreased significantly ( P = 0.003), but no significant difference was observed for blood loss after birth, length of the third stage, or need for a blood transfusion. No other women required an operative intervention (such as manual removal of placenta, dilatation and curettage, laparotomy, or hysterectomy) or had estimated blood loss >1000 ml. No difference was observed for additional uterotonics between the two groups (P = 0.737) [Table 2].
Table 2: Primary and secondary outcomes

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The incidence of shivering was 14% in the misoprostol group compared with 4% in the oxytocin group. Our observations elicited that the incidence of other side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and headache were essentially similar [Table 3].
Table 3: Medication side effects

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   Discussion Top

This study confirmed the utility of rectal misoprostol for routine management of the third stage of labor. Misoprostol (400 μg) administered rectally was effective for minimizing blood loss when utilized to actively manage the third stage of labor, as measured by changes in Hb concentration before and 12 hours after delivery. This dose and route of administration are well tolerated, and usual side effects such as shivering and increasing temperature were not prevalent. Karkanis et al. reported that No difference in Hb was observed between the groups of women who randomly received 400 (μg) rectal misoprostol after delivery of the infant or 5 units of parenteral oxytocin or 10 units oxytocin intramuscularly with delivery of the anterior shoulder. [16] The duration of the third stage of labor was not different between the two groups. Bugalh et al's. observation also confirmed similar results. [17] Nasr et al. conducted a randomized trial with 514 women to receive either 400 (μg) rectal misoprostol or one ampoule of syntometrin. The results showed that the incidence of PPH, duration of third stage of labor, and the drop in Hb were similar between the two groups. [12] Ayyad and Abu Omar also reported rectal misoprostol to be effective to stop severe delivery-induced hemorrhage after failure of syntocinon. [11]

These studies provide further evidence for the utility of misoprostol as an effective uterotonic that provides a simple therapeutic option for health care providers in developing nations to use against obstetric hemorrhage. PPH is regarded as one of the major causes of maternal mortality and morbidity in developing countries. Consequently, active management of the third stage of labor should be practiced by routinely use of intravenous oxytocin. Misoprostol was chosen as a substitute for oxytocin to prevent PPH because it has similar advantages to oxytocin but with minimal side effects. [11] Misoprostol is an inexpensive medicine, which is easily available. It is easy to use and does not require special storage conditions (i.e., can be stored easily at room temperature; is thermo-stable and light stable; does not require specific conditions for transfer) and has a shelf life of several years. These advantages make it a useful medicine for reducing the incidence of PPH in developing countries. The rectal route was chosen because of ease of administration, and because it avoids gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea; therefore, it can be given to women who have nausea and vomiting. [11]

   Conclusion Top

Rectal misoprostol seems to be safe and effective for preventing PPH and is recommended for use to manage the third stage of labor.

   Acknowledgments Top

The authors would like to thank all of the pregnant women that participated in this study. Special thanks go to Mrs. Raee and Mortazavie for their cooperation in collecting data.

   References Top

1.Walley RL, Wilson JB, Crane JM, Matthews K, Sawyer E, Hutchens D. A double-blind placebo controlled randomised trial of misoprostol and oxytocin in the management of the third stage of labour. BJOG 2000;107:1111-5.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Mobeen N, Durocher J, Zuberi N, Jahan N, Blum J, Wasim S, et al. Administration of misoprostol by trained traditional birth attendants to prevent postpartum haemorrhage in homebirths in Pakistan: A randomised placebo-controlled trial. BJOG 2010;118:353-61.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Celenza MT, Brassil ML, Code H. Obstetrical hemorrhage: Development of a team approach. J Obstet Gynecol Neonat Nurs 2011;40:S46-7.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Cunningham F, Kenneth Leveno K, Bloom S, Hauth J, Rouse D, Spong C. William›s obstetrics. 23 th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies; 2010.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Gülmezoglu AM, Forna F, Villar J, Hofmeyr GJ. Prostaglandins for preventing postpartum haemorrhage. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2007;3:CD000494.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Hofmeyr GJ, Gülmezoglu AM, Novikova N, Linder V, Ferreira S, Piaggio G. Misoprostol to prevent and treat postpartum haemorrhage: A systematic review and meta-analysis of maternal deaths and dose-related effects. Bull World Health Organ 2009;87:666-77.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Khan RU, El-Refaey H. Pharmacokinetics and adverse-effect profile of rectally administered misoprostol in the third stage of labor. Obstet Gynecol 2003;101:968-74.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Elati A, Elmahaishi MS, Elmahaishi MO, Elsraiti OA, Weeks AD. The effect of misoprostol on postpartum contractions: A randomised comparison of three sublingual doses. BJOG 2010;118:466-73.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Anbreen F. Efficacy of Rectal Misorpostol when Combined with Standard Oxytocin to Treat Postpartum Hemorrhage. Gomal J Med Sci 2010;8:27-9.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Mansouri H, Alsahly N. Rectal versus oral misoprostol for active management of third stage of labor: A randomized controlled trial. Arch Gynecol Obstet 2011;283:935-9.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Ayyad I, Jordan R. Prevention of post partum haemorrhage by rectal misoprostol: A randomised controlled trial. Middle East J Fam Med 2004;5:1-6.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Nasr A, Shahin AY, Elsamman AM, Zakherah MS, Shaaban OM. Rectal misoprostol versus intravenous oxytocin for prevention of postpartum hemorrhage. Int J Gynecol Obstet 2009;105:244-7.  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Sanghvi H, Ansari N, Prata NJ, Gibson H, Ehsan AT, Smith JM. Prevention of postpartum hemorrhage at home birth in Afghanistan. Int J Gynecol Obstet 2010;108:276-81.  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Prata N, Gessessew A, Abraha AK, Holston M, Potts M. Prevention of postpartum hemorrhage: Options for home births in rural Ethiopia. Afr J Reprod Health 2010;13:87-95.  Back to cited text no. 14
15.Langenbach C. Misoprostol in preventing postpartum hemorrhage: A meta-analysis. Int J Gynecol Obstet 2006;92:10-8.  Back to cited text no. 15
16.Karkanis SG, Caloia D, Salenieks ME, Kingdom J, Walker M, Meffe F, et al. Randomized controlled trial of rectal misoprostol versus oxytocin in third stage management. J Obstet Gynaecol Can 2002;24:149-54.  Back to cited text no. 16
17.Bugalho A, Daniel A, Faúndes A, Cunha M. Misoprostol for prevention of postpartum hemorrhage. Int J Gynecol Obstet 2001;73:1-6.  Back to cited text no. 17


  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]

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