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Abortion with Septic Shock: Causes, Risk and Symptoms

Septic Abortion, Septic Shock, Sepsis – Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Septic Abortion is an infection that occurs during or briefly after an abortion procedure. When the abortion is done at home using non-sterile devices or if the instruments used by a gynecologist are not sterilized properly, that can lead to septic abortion and septic shock causing very low blood pressure. This can be life-threatening.

Abortion is a procedure done to terminate the pregnancy. There are different types of abortion:

  1. Medical Abortion – This is an induced miscarriage with the help of drugs. When the miscarriage happens, the foetus and related tissues fall off.
  2. Surgical Abortion – Surgical removal of placenta and foetus from the uterus. A vacuum suction device is usually used to suck out the foetus and connected tissues.
  3. Miscarriage – This happens on its own when the pregnancy tissues fall off by themselves due to various reasons. In a complete miscarriage, the entire foetus and its connected material fall of whereas in an incomplete miscarriage, only part of the material falls off. The rest of the fetus parts needs to be removed by a gynecologist.
  4. Self-Induced Abortion – Most unsafe method of abortion. Abortion is induced using medicines at home and sometimes, unsterilized household tools are used to clear the foetus.

Septic abortion, septic shock, and sepsis

As mentioned previously, septic abortion can happen during the procedure or briefly after that. If the tools used by your gynecologist or midwife are not sterilized properly, the bacteria present on the instruments are passed onto the uterus where it thrives. In a period of 24 to 48 hours, the woman can feel pain in the abdomen and the symptoms can resemble that of pelvic inflammatory disease. (Running a fever, Vaginal discharge, chills, etc.)  Symptoms can also resemble those of incomplete abortion. Perforation of the uterus during an abortion can cause severe abdominal pain.

Septic abortion can also result when your gynecologist or mid-wife misses removing any part of the fetus or related tissue.

Septic shock can also occur and the blood pressure of the person goes down that may become difficult to control even with IV fluids. Hypothermia, hypertension, and respiratory diseases can also result from septic shock. In most cases, the infection stays in the uterus or a particular area in the body but if left untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body causing a full-body attack. This resulting condition is called ‘sepsis’.

Symptoms of septic shock

Any surgery that involves the insertion of any medical tools into the body bears the risk of infection. What matters most is how clean the instruments are kept and maintained by the hospital staff and how your gynecologist will pre-emptively address the possibility of any infection. Symptoms of septic shock include:

  1. Deviation of body temperate from normal. (It can be high or low)
  2. Difficulty breathing with heart palpitations
  3. Low blood pressure especially when standing
  4. Chills, pale arms, and legs
  5. Heavy vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain.

What are the complications of abortion with septic shock

If not treated properly, septic shock can be life-threatening. In some cases, it may lead to radical hysterectomy where the complete uterus, fallopian tubes, cervix, and both ovaries have to be removed.

Typical complications of septic shock include:

  1. Respiratory failure
  2. Heart failure
  3. Liver failure
  4. Kidney failure
  5. (Death of tissues and muscles in the body due to lack of blood supply).

How is septic abortion or septic shock diagnosed?

  1. Blood test. A complete blood count can tell if the white blood cells are high in number indicating the presence of an infection.
  2. Checking blood oxygen levels and organ functions. (When the infection spreads to other parts/organs of the body, they stop functioning normally and may fail).
  3. A urine tests can help to see the presence of infection in the body.
  4. CT scans can reveal if any of the fetus remains are left out in the uterus that could be causing the problem.
  5. To check the functioning of lungs and pneumonia, X ray or a CT Scan may be done.
  6. ECG/EKG is done to look for blood supply to the heart and watch heart rythms.

Treatment for septic abortion

Treatment depends on the root cause of the problem. If any leftovers of the foetus and related tissue are present in the uterus, they will be removed. If it is due to the infection, the person will be put on different types of antibiotics such as ampicillin, gentamicin, clindamycin, etc. Please do NOT try these medicines at home. If you use antibiotics with the supervision of a good doctor, the bacteria may become resistant to the antibiotics and you may end up having severe symptoms that may become difficult to treat.

If the septic shock makes the person difficult to breathe, she will be put on a ventilator and medication may be given to increase blood pressure (in case of low BP). IV fluids will be given to improve blood pressure and heart rate is monitored constantly.

Caring for yourself after an abortion

The very first thing you need to remember is that you should take the help of a good gynecologist near you to get aborted. If you above the age of 18, you don’t need anyone else’s permission to get aborted and you can get this done in any good private hospital that does abortions.  This first and important step reduces the chance of septic abortion by several times and your post-operative care will be minimal.

You will be put on a prescription of antibiotics to make sure that the infection (if any) may be removed from your body before it grows. If you are advised to take a rest for a day or two, please follow your doctor’s instructions. Talk to your gynecologist before you get back to school or work after an abortion.  If you see any vaginal bleeding or discharge, you must notify your gynecologist immediately and take appropriate medications.

Which is the best hospital in Chennai to get aborted?

There are plenty of private hospitals in Chennai that can help you in getting aborted as long as you are an adult and the pregnancy time is less than that mentioned by the MTP Act of India. What you need to make sure when picking the right hospital for your abortion is:

  1. Experienced gynecologist or surgeon from a reputed hospital. If you are looking for cheaper treatment, you will end up risking your life as the chances of septic abortion are higher.
  2. A gynecologist who can explain what to expect after your procedure. There are cases when a person wants to get aborted but the doctor abides by the rules of the procedure and the patient walks away to another hospital leaving a bad review. You should not be in a hurry to get the foetus removed the next hour you visit your gynecologist. Listen to your doctor and follow the instructions for a risk-free abortion.