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Comparison of medical abortion follow-up with serum human chorionic gonadotropin testing and in-office assessment



The study was conducted to compare lost to follow-up (LTFU) rates in women having a medical abortion who chose follow-up by in-office ultrasound assessment or serum beta human chorionic gonadotropin (β-hCG) testing.


This retrospective chart review included 865 women who underwent medical abortion in a free-standing outpatient clinic from September 1, 2007, through September 30, 2010. Patients had a 1-week follow-up evaluation after receiving the medications consisting of in-office ultrasound assessment or serial serum β-hCG testing. Ultrasound assessment was offered throughout the study period, and serum β-hCG testing was offered as of September 1, 2008. Demographic and medical data were reviewed to evaluate LTFU rates based on patient's chosen method of follow-up. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was performed to evaluate factors that were independently associated with lack of follow-up.


LTFU rates increased from 18% to 27% in the first and third years of the study period, respectively (p=.009). LTFU rates with ultrasound and β-hCG testing were 22.9% and 33.7%, respectively (p=.024). In multivariable analysis, follow-up method was not associated with increased LTFU. Increased parity, any previous induced abortion, increased distance from home to clinic site and unemployment were independently associated with increased LTFU.


Although LTFU rates are higher with serum β-hCG testing than in-office ultrasound follow-up in our patient population, the women who choose this method are inherently more likely not to follow-up because of other characteristics that predict a high likelihood of being LTFU. Offering serum β-hCG testing does not decrease the LTFU rate in women having a medical abortion.

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