Miscarriage

A miscarriage is the spontaneous termination of a pregnancy before 20 weeks gestation. Fetal death after week 20 is termed fetal death in utero (FDIU).

The term miscarriage is preferred by many over 'abortion' due to the use of the latter for therapeutic pregnancy termination, and the perceived stigma attributed to it by some.

Terminology varies greatly, as do the definitions of these terms. Commonly it is divided into:

Approximately 20-25% of all pregnancies experience a threatened miscarriage. Of these, 15-50% result in embryonic/fetal death. The rate of fetal loss is significantly lower in pregnancies which do not threaten to miscarry (only 2-7%). A miscarriage often occurs very early in the pregnancy, often without any alteration of the menstrual cycle and thus not perceived by the woman. 

When a woman has had three or more miscarriages, the term habitual miscarriage is used.

Typically presents with vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain, and cramping.

Share article

Article information

rID: 1681
System: Obstetrics
Tag: cases
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Spontaneous miscarriage
  • Miscarriages
  • Pregnancy miscarriage

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and figures

  • Case 1: incomplete miscarriage
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

     Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

     Thank you for updating your details.