Tropical Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology

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Pathology of Abortion-Related Deaths in Port Harcourt Nigeria

Daye Seleye-Fubara, E. Nicholas Etebu, John Ikimalo


Context: Abortions contribute significantly to the problem of maternal mortality and morbidity in Nigeria and it is desirable to identify the pathological events that culminate in mortality in these patients.

Objective: To describe autopsy features observed in patients who died from abortion and its complications in a tertiary health centre in Nigeria.

Study Design, Setting and Subjects: The data was obtained from an autopsy study of coroner's cases whose deaths occurred after abortions over a sixteen-year period. The antecedent clinical data were obtained from the patients' case notes.

Results: Of the 81 autopsies done following maternal deaths during the study period, 38 were abortion- related. The deaths followed 15 and 23 first and second trimester abortions respectively. Majority of the victims (68.3%) were aged between 15 and 29 years. The identified major causes of death were septic shock (50% of cases), haemorrhagic shock (26.3%), anaemic heart failure (13.2%) and peritonitis (10.5%). People with no formal health care training were responsible for procuring abortion in 57.9% of the cases.

Conclusion: Mortality from abortion is usually preceded by septic or haemorrhagic shock. Aggressive resuscitative measures may help to salvage some of the patients, but the social and economic factors driving the increasing rates of unsafe abortions in the society must be tackled to reduce abortion-related maternal mortality significantly.

Key Words: Abortion, Maternal Mortality, Autopsy.

[Trop J Obstet Gynaecol, 2002, 19: 104-106]

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