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Original Contribution
September 21, 1964

Septic Abortion

Author Affiliations


From the Boston Lying-in Hospital (Dr. Barnes), and the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Harvard Medical School (Dr. Ulfelder), Boston.

JAMA. 1964;189(12):919-923. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03070120041010

A review to appraise the potential and actual hazards of 677 abortion cases treated from 1957 to 1962 showed 95 (14%) to be septic. Of these, 72 had an uncomplicated recovery after curettage and a hospital stay of 51/2 days or less. Comparison with the 23 patients who were more ill exposes a variety of data in the history, admission examination, and initial studies which may help predict the likelihood of more serious illness. Shaking chills most consistently did this. Every effort must be made to distinguish the specific effects. such as chemical toxemia, clostridial infections, pyogenic cellulitis-peritonitis-abscess complexes, and septic shock, in selecting appropriate management. Surgical procedures may include dilatation and curettage and hysterectomy, while aggressive medical supportive therapy, including dialysis and hyperbaric oxygen, may be used in treating the severely ill patient.

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