• Cervical ripening;
  • estradiol;
  • hysteroscopy;
  • misoprostol;
  • postmenopausal;
  • sequential trial

Objective  To compare the impact of 1000 μg of self-administered vaginal misoprostol versus self-administered vaginal placebo on preoperative cervical ripening after 2 weeks of pretreatment with estradiol vaginal tablets in postmenopausal women prior to day-care operative hysteroscopy.

Design  Randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled sequential trial.

Setting  Norwegian university teaching hospital.

Population  Sixty-seven postmenopausal women referred for day-care operative hysteroscopy.

Methods  The women were randomised to receive either 1000 μg of self-administered vaginal misoprostol or self-administered vaginal placebo on the evening before day-care operative hysteroscopy. All women had administered a 25-μg vaginal estradiol tablet daily for 14 days prior to the operation.

Main outcome measures  Primary outcome: preoperative cervical dilatation at hysteroscopy. Secondary outcomes: difference in dilatation at recruitment and before hysteroscopy, number of women who achieved a preoperative cervical dilatation of 5 mm or more, acceptability, complications and adverse effects.

Results  The mean cervical dilatation was 5.7 mm (SD, 1.6 mm) in the misoprostol group and 4.7 mm (SD, 1.5 mm) in the placebo group, the mean difference in cervical dilatation being 1.0 mm (95% CI, 0.2–1.7 mm). Self-administered vaginal misoprostol of 1000 μg at home on the evening before day-care hysteroscopy is safe and highly acceptable, although a small proportion of women experienced lower abdominal pain.

Conclusions  One thousand micrograms of self-administered vaginal misoprostol, 12 hours prior to day-care hysteroscopy, after 14 days of pretreatment with vaginal estradiol, has a significant cervical ripening effect compared with placebo in postmenopausal women.