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Suture Closure of Subcutaneous Fat and Wound Disruption After Cesarean Delivery: A Meta-Analysis

Chelmow, David MD; Rodriguez, Elisa J. MD; Sabatini, Marie M. MD

doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000124807.76451.47

OBJECTIVE: To define the role of suture closure of the subcutaneous dead space in preventing wound complications after cesarean delivery.

DATA SOURCES: We searched MEDLINE, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and the bibliographies of major texts and review articles.

METHODS OF STUDY SELECTION: Only studies in which patients undergoing cesarean delivery were randomly assigned to closure of the subcutaneous space or to no closure were included. Each study was required to report on at least 1 of the following outcomes: wound infection, hematoma, seroma, or separation. The studies also reported “wound disruption,” a combination of these outcomes which either explicitly stated or strongly implied the need for further wound care. Six studies meeting criteria were identified.

TABULATION, INTEGRATION, AND RESULTS: Three studies included 875 patients with any subcutaneous thickness and noted a decrease in wound disruption with closure (relative risk [RR] 0.56; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.36, 0.86). Two studies reported results from 181 patients with incision depth of 2 cm or less and noted no difference (RR 1.01; 95% CI 0.46, 2.20). Five studies reported results on 887 patients with wound thickness greater than 2 cm. Although only 1 study had a significant effect by itself, when results were combined, there was a significant decrease in wound disruption (RR 0.66; 95% CI 0.48, 0.91). This reduction seems to be largely a result of decreased wound seromas (4 studies, 852 patients, RR 0.42; 95% CI 0.24, 0.75). In women with wound thickness greater than 2 cm, subcutaneous closure resulted in a risk reduction of 6.2%, and 16.2 women would need subcutaneous closure to prevent 1 wound disruption (number needed to treat).

CONCLUSION: Suture closure of subcutaneous fat during cesarean delivery results in a 34% decrease in risk of wound disruption in women with fat thickness greater than 2 cm.

Suture closure of subcutaneous fat decreases wound disruption in patients undergoing cesarean delivery.

From the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of General Obstetrics and Gynecology, Tufts University School of Medicine and Tufts-New England Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts.

Reprints are not available. Address correspondence to: David Chelmow, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Tufts University School of Medicine Box 022, 750 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111; e-mail:

Received October 12, 2003. Received in revised form January 19, 2004. Accepted January 28, 2004.

© 2004 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists