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Uterine rupture is a serious event during childbirth by which the integrity of the myometrial wall is breached. In an incomplete rupture the peritoneum is still intact. With a complete rupture the contents of the uterus may spill into the peritoneal cavity or the broad ligament. A uterine rupture is a life-threatening event for mother and baby.
A uterine rupture typically occurs during active labor, but may also develop during late pregnancy.
Signs and symptoms
Symptoms of a rupture may be initially quite subtle. An old cesarean scar may undergo dehiscence; but with further labor the woman may experience abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding, though these signs are difficult to distinguish from normal labor. Often a deterioration of the fetal heart rate is a leading sign, but the cardinal sign of uterine rupture is loss of fetal station on manual vaginal exam. Intra-abdominal bleeding can lead to hypovolemic shock and death. Although the associated maternal mortality is now less than one percent, the fetal mortality rate is between two and six percent when rupture occurs in the hospital.
In pregnancy uterine rupture may cause a viable abdominal pregnancy. This is what accounts for most abdominal pregnancy births.
- Abdominal pain and tenderness. The pain may not be severe; it may occur suddenly at the peak of a contraction. The woman may describe a feeling that something "gave way" or "ripped."
- Chest pain, pain between the scapulae, or pain on inspiration—Pain occurs because of the irritation of blood below the woman's diaphragm
- Hypovolemic shock caused by haemorrhage— Falling blood pressure, tachycardia, tachypnea, pallor, cool and clammy skin, and anxiety. The fall in blood pressure is often a late sign of haemorrhage
- Signs associated with fetal oxygenation, such as late deceleration, reduced variability, tachycardia, and bradycardia
- Absent fetal heart sounds with a large disruption of the placenta; absent fetal heart activity by ultrasound examination
- Cessation of uterine contractions
- Palpation of the fetus outside the uterus (usually occurs only with a large, complete rupture). The fetus is likely to be dead at this point.
- Signs of an abdominal pregnancy
- Post-term pregnancy
A uterine scar from a previous cesarean section is the most common risk factor. (In one review, 52% had previous cesarean scars.) Other forms of uterine surgery that result in full-thickness incisions (such as a myomectomy), dysfunctional labor, labor augmentation by oxytocin or prostaglandins, and high parity may also set the stage for uterine rupture. In 2006, an extremely rare case of uterine rupture in a first pregnancy with no risk factors was reported.
Emergency exploratory laparotomy with cesarean delivery accompanied by fluid and blood transfusion are indicated for the management of uterine rupture. Depending on the nature of the rupture and the condition of the patient, the uterus may be either repaired or removed (cesarean hysterectomy). Delay in management places both mother and child at significant risk.
- "Uterine Rupture in Pregnancy: eMedicine Obstetrics and Gynecology". Retrieved 2010-03-23.
- Chibber R, El-Saleh E, Fadhli RA, Jassar WA, Harmi JA (March 2010). "Uterine rupture and subsequent pregnancy outcome - how safe is it? A 25-year study". J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 23 (5): 421–4. doi:10.3109/14767050903440489. PMID 20230321.
- Walsh CA, O'Sullivan RJ, Foley ME (2006). "Unexplained prelabor uterine rupture in a term primigravida". Obstetrics and gynecology. 108 (3 Pt 2): 725–7. doi:10.1097/01.AOG.0000195065.38149.11. PMID 17018479.