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Open Access Research article

Umbilical vein injection of misoprostol versus normal saline for the treatment of retained placenta: intrapartum placebo-controlled trial

Sheelan S Rajab1 and Shahla K Alalaf2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Shaheed Dr.Khalid General Hospital, Erbil City, Iraq

2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, College of Medicine, Hawler Medical University, Erbil City, Iraq

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2014, 14:37  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-37

Published: 21 January 2014



The third stage of labour may be complicated by retained placenta, which should be managed promptly because it may cause severe bleeding and infection, with a potentially fatal outcome. This study evaluated the effectiveness of umbilical vein injection of misoprostol for the treatment of retained placenta in a hospital setting.


This hospital-based placebo-controlled trial was conducted at the Maternity Teaching Hospital, Erbil City, Kurdistan region, Northern Iraq from April 2011 to February 2012. The inclusion criteria were: gestational age of at least 28 weeks, vaginal delivery, and failure of the placenta to separate within 30 minutes after delivery of the infant despite active management of the third stage of labour. Forty-six women with retained placentas were eligible for inclusion. After informed consent was obtained, the women were alternately allocated to receive umbilical vein injection of either 800 mcg misoprostol dissolved in 20 mL of normal saline (misoprostol group) or 20 mL of normal saline only (saline group). The women were blinded to the group allocation, but the investigator who administered the injection was not. The trial was registered by the Research Ethics Committee of Hawler Medical University.


After umbilical vein injection, delivery of the placenta occurred in 91.3% of women in the misoprostol group and 69.5% of women in the saline group, which was not a significant difference between the two groups. The median vaginal blood loss from the time of injection until delivery of the placenta was significantly less in the misoprostol group (100 mL) than in the saline group (210 mL) (p value < 0.001).


Umbilical vein injection of misoprostol is an effective treatment for retained placenta, and reduces the volume of vaginal blood loss with few adverse effects.

Clinical Trial Registration

Current Controlled Trial HMU: N252.1.2011

Intraumbilical misoprostol; Retained placenta; Active management of third stage of labour