Evacuation of Retained Products of Conception (ERPC)

What is ERPC?

An ERPC is a minor operation that is performed when you have been diagnosed as having some retained products (tissue) in the womb (uterus) following childbirth or a miscarriage.

Why is it done?

Retained products usually contain small pieces of placenta (afterbirth) that the uterus has not managed to expel naturally following these events. Although this tissue may be passed naturally, occasionally this does not happen and in this case an ERPC may be advised to help prevent prolonged bleeding and/or pain or, very occasionally, infection.

An ERPC is also performed when an ultrasound scan has shown that that a pregnancy has failed to develop properly (blighted ovum) or that the fetal (baby’s) heartbeat has stopped, but a miscarriage has not yet occurred.

What to expect after surgery?

An ERPC is usually performed as a day case procedure. Provided you are feeling comfortable, have had something to eat and drink and have not had any complications, we can let you go home later the same day.

You may have some vaginal bleeding or a brownish discharge, which can last up to 2 weeks. It might be heavier than your normal period. You may feel slight discomfort similar to period pain for 1-2 days. You can have a bath or preferably a shower, the same day as the operation. You should not use tampons or have sexual intercourse

during this time. Your next period may be delayed a little, but should arrive within 6 weeks.

What are the risks of the surgery?

Any operation may lead to problems including the following general risks:

  • Excessive bleeding.
  • Injury to nearby areas (tissue or organs).
  • Surgical or wound infection.
  • Blood clots in the legs and lungs.
  • Allergic reaction to drugs or anaesthetic.
  • Breathing difficulties during or following the general anaesthetic.

What are the alternatives to the surgery?

Medication can be given to speed up your body’s natural processes. You will either discharge or absorb the tissues and you are likely to have some bleeding and pain during this time. Medication can be very effective but the time it takes varies. It is not always effective so you may still need a surgical evacuation. This is a good option if you are prepared to accept the uncertainty.